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Elbert B. Edwards: 

Memoirs of a Southern Nevada Educator, 
Scion of an Early Mormon Pioneer Family 


Interviewee: Elbert Edwards 
Interviewed: 1966 
Published: 1968 
Interviewer: Mary Ellen Glass 
UNOHP Catalog #023 


Description 

Born in 1907 into one of the first families to settle in eastern Nevada, Elbert Edwards constitutes a link with a 
little-known phase of the pioneer past of southern Nevada. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day 
Saints, he conveys an impression of the dedication and the industry of that segment of society. Mr. Edwards has 
been sensitive to his surroundings and perceptive of his evaluations of them. When he was a youth in Panaca, 
pioneer agricultural and domestic practices were still common. While there are a number of studies of Mormon 
community life, this account offers a fresh insight on that subject. 

Mr. Edwards was a student at the University of Nevada in the late 1920s, and he became a schoolteacher in Las Vegas 
at the beginning of the Depression, just as the city and the adjacent area were beginning the remarkable expansion 
that accompanied the building of Hoover Dam. As a teacher and later as an educational administrator in Boulder 
City, he was a modern pioneer. Edwards gives an invaluable account of the community and educational problems 
of southern Nevada a third-of-a-century ago. 

Elbert Edwards gives reminiscences of his family’s Mormon pioneers; memories of family and everyday life in 
southern Nevada; a description of his mothers ranch life; accounts of water distribution processes in the Panaca area; 
remembrances of his training for, and pursuance of a career in education; a perspective on the modern LDS church; 
the account of a peculiar experience in sighting an unidentified flying object; and a philosophical conclusion. The 
period and communities in which he lived are among the least known and the least well described in the literature 
on Nevada, and this memoir will prove important for future researchers on southern and eastern Nevada. 



Elbert B. Edwards: 

Memoirs of a Southern Nevada Educator, 
Scion of an Early Mormon Pioneer Family 




Elbert B. Edwards: 

Memoirs of a Southern Nevada Educator, 
Scion of an Early Mormon Pioneer Family 


An Oral History Conducted by Mary Ellen Glass 


University of Nevada Oral History Program 


Copyright 1968 

University of Nevada Oral History Program 
Mail Stop 0324 
Reno, Nevada 89557 
unohp @unr. edu 
http: / / www. unr. edu/ oralhistory 


All rights reserved. Published 1968. 
Printed in the United States of America 


Director: Mary Ellen Glass 


University of Nevada Oral History Program Use Policy 

All UNOHP interviews are copyrighted materials. They may be downloaded and/or 
printed for personal reference and educational use, but not republished or sold. Under 
“fair use” standards, excerpts of up to 1000 words may be quoted for publication without 
UNOHP permission as long as the use is non-commercial and materials are properly 
cited. The citation should include the title of the work, the name of the person or 
people interviewed, the date of publication or production, and the fact that the work 
was published or produced by the University of Nevada Oral History Program (and 
collaborating institutions, when applicable). Requests for permission to quote for other 
publication, or to use any photos found within the transcripts, should be addressed 
to the UNOHP, Mail Stop 0324, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV 89557-0324. 
Original recordings of most UNOHP interviews are available for research purposes 
upon request. 



Contents 

Preface to the Digital Edition ix 

Introduction xi 

Special Introduction by James W. Hulse xiii 

1. My Family’s Pioneers 1 

2. Family Fife in a Mormon Community 13 

3. Woman’s Work on a Southern Nevada Ranch 33 

4. A Rural Water System 39 

5. My Early Fife and Education 41 

6. My Career in Fas Vegas Valley 63 

7. Boulder City History and Education 83 

8. The Modern EDS Church 103 


9. My Experience with a “UFO” 


107 



Elbert B. Edwards 


viii 


10. Summary 

111 

Original Index: For Reference Only 

113 



Preface to the Digital Edition 


Established in 1964, the University of 
Nevada Oral History Program (UNOHP) 
explores the remembered past through 
rigorous oral history interviewing, creating a 
record for present and future researchers. The 
programs collection of primary source oral 
histories is an important body of information 
about significant events, people, places, 
and activities in twentieth and twenty-first 
century Nevada and the West. 

The UNOHP wishes to make the 
information in its oral histories accessible 
to a broad range of patrons. To achieve 
this goal, its transcripts must speak with 
an intelligible voice. However, no type font 
contains symbols for physical gestures and 
vocal modulations which are integral parts 
of verbal communication. When human 
speech is represented in print, stripped of 
these signals, the result can be a morass of 
seemingly tangled syntax and incomplete 
sentences—totally verbatim transcripts 
sometimes verge on incoherence. Therefore, 
this transcript has been lightly edited. 


While taking great pains not to alter 
meaning in any way, the editor may have 
removed false starts, redundancies, and the 
“uhs,” “ahs,” and other noises with which 
speech is often liberally sprinkled; compressed 
some passages which, in unaltered form, 
misrepresent the chroniclers meaning; and 
relocated some material to place information 
in its intended context. Laughter is represented 
with [laughter] at the end of a sentence in 
which it occurs, and ellipses are used to 
indicate that a statement has been interrupted 
or is incomplete.. .or that there is a pause for 
dramatic effect. 

As with all of our oral histories, while 
we can vouch for the authenticity of the 
interviews in the UNOHP collection, we 
advise readers to keep in mind that these are 
remembered pasts, and we do not claim that 
the recollections are entirely free of error. 
We can state, however, that the transcripts 
accurately reflect the oral history recordings 
on which they were based. Accordingly, each 
transcript should be approached with the 



X 


Elbert B. Edwards 


same prudence that the intelligent reader 
exercises when consulting government 
records, newspaper accounts, diaries, and 
other sources of historical information. 
All statements made here constitute the 
remembrance or opinions of the individuals 
who were interviewed, and not the opinions 
of the UNOHP. 

In order to standardize the design of all 
UNOHP transcripts for the online database, 
most have been reformatted, a process that 
was completed in 2012. This document may 
therefore differ in appearance and pagination 
from earlier printed versions. Rather than 
compile entirely new indexes for each volume, 
the UNOHP has made each transcript fully 
searchable electronically. If a previous version 
of this volume existed, its original index has 
been appended to this document for reference 
only. A link to the entire catalog can be found 
online at http://oralhistory.unr.edu/. 

For more information on the UNOHP 
or any of its publications, please contact the 
University of Nevada Oral History Program at 
Mail Stop 0324, University of Nevada, Reno, 
NV, 89557-0324 or by calling 775/784-6932. 

Alicia Barber 
Director, UNOHP 
July 2012 



Introduction 


Elbert Edwards, born in Nevada in 1907, 
has spent his years in the state contributing 
to his native states educational, cultural, and 
economic life. Dr. James Hulse’s introduction 
to Mr. Edwards’s memoir describes and 
evaluates those contributions. 

When invited to participate in the Oral 
History Project of the Center for Western 
North American Studies, Mr. Edwards 
accepted readily. He was a relaxed, cooperative, 
and enthusiastic interviewee through six 
taping sessions, five held from March 8 to 11, 
1966, in his Boulder City, Nevada, home, and 
in his office at the Frontier Fidelity Savings 
and Loan company in Las Vegas; and one on 
May 6, 1966, at the office of the Center for 
Western North American Studies. 

The memoir recorded by Elbert Edwards 
includes reminiscences of his family’s 
Mormon pioneers; memories of family 
and everyday life in Southern Nevada; 
a description of his mother’s ranch life; 
accounts of water distribution processes in 
the Panaca area; remembrances of his training 
for, and pursuance of a career in education; a 


perspective on the modern LDS church; the 
account of a peculiar experience in sighting an 
unidentified flying object; and a philosophical 
conclusion. 

The Oral History Project of the Center for 
Western North American Studies attempts to 
preserve the past and the present for future 
research by tape recording the memoirs 
of persons who have been important in 
the development of Nevada and the West. 
Scripts resulting from the interviews are 
deposited in the Nevada and the West 
Collection of the University of Nevada 
Library on the Reno campus, and in the 
Special Collections department of the Nevada 
Southern University Library. Permission 
to cite or quote from Elbert Edwards’s oral 
history may be obtained from the Center for 
Western North American Studies. 

Mary Ellen Glass 
University of Nevada 
1968 




Special Introduction 


The reminiscences of Elbert Edwards 
are an unusual and significant contribution 
to the resource material on Nevada history. 
Born into one of the first families to settle 
in eastern Nevada, he constitutes a link with 
a little-known phase of the pioneer past 
of that region. A member of the Church 
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he 
conveys an impression of the dedication 
and the industry of that segment of society. 
One does not read far into this manuscript 
before he realized that Mr. Edwards—as 
both a boy and a man—has been sensitive 
to his surroundings and perceptive in his 
evaluations of them. When he was a youth 
in Panaca, many pioneer agricultural and 
domestic practices were still common, and 
his descriptions of them are certain to be of 
value to future students. While there are a 
number of studies of Mormon community 
life, this account offers a fresh insights on 
that subject. Mr. Edwards was a student at the 
University of Nevada in the late 1920’s, and 
he became a schoolteacher in Las Vegas at 


the beginning of the depression, just as that 
city and the adjacent area were beginning 
the remarkable expansion that accompanied 
the building of Hoover Dam. As a teacher 
and later as an educational administrator in 
Boulder City, he was participant in a modern 
kind of pioneering, and one finds here an 
invaluable account of the community and 
educational problems of Southern Nevada 
of a third-of-a-century ago. 

Although a few of the episodes described 
in this manuscript may testify to the contrary, 
he is a quiet, shy person. His boyhood antics 
and his encounter with the suspected cattle 
rustlers might suggest a rougher kind of 
person than his adult contemporaries 
have known. His gentle qualities and his 
professional contacts made it possible 
for him to win the respect of many of the 
better-known residents of the Southern 
Nevada communities of the immediate past 
and present. The period and communities 
in which he has lived are among the least 
known and the least well described in the 



XIV 


Elbert B. Edwards 


literature on Nevada, and this document 
will prove important for future researchers 
on Southern and Eastern Nevada. 

James W. Hulse 
Department of History 
University of Nevada 
1968 



1 

My Family’s Pioneers 


My ancestry, I think, could be classed as 
typical American stock. All of my ancestors 
were from several generations in America, and 
some of them go back into the 17th century 
as far as 1654. They were all early members of 
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 
which, of course, has played such a prominent 
part in my life and in the communities in 
which I have had experience. All of my great 
grand parents became members in the early 
1830’s. The church was organized in 1830 and 
they became members within a very few years 
of that time. 

They were subjected to the continual 
migrations that were carried on by the 
church and also to the continual persecution 
that was carried on against the membership 
and against the doctrine of the church. In 
fact, a story comes down to us about my 
grandmother Electa Edwards. She was a 
member of the Lee family, born in far west 
Missouri. The night that she was born, the 
room was lighted by the fires that had been 
set by the mobs in that vicinity. 


The Edwardses were likewise early 
members. My great-grandfather joined the 
church in the year 1837. On my mother’s side, 
her father was only two years old at the time, 
but his mother joined in 1835. In the case of 
her maternal ancestor, I don’t know just when 
they joined, but it was at an early date. They 
all moved around, of course. They were all in 
Nauvoo at the time of the general exodus out 
of Illinois and spent varying lengths of time 
on route from Illinois to Salt Lake City or to 
the Utah area. 

My grandfather Lyman Lafayette Woods 
migrated in ‘48. He was an orphan, and at that 
time was sixteen years of age. He worked his 
way across, driving an ox team for one of the 
church authorities. 

The Lees came through in 1850, as also 
did the Edwardses. They settled in various 
places; the Lees in Tooele, the Edwardses 
also in Tooele although they later moved to 
Cache Valley, Utah, where my father was born 
in 1860. My Grandfather Woods settled in 
Provo, Utah. 



2 


Elbert B. Edwards 


In 1862, the Lee family was called to the 
Dixie Mission. Of course, the Dixie Mission 
was established in what was generally termed 
as “Utah’s Dixie” and more generally the 
St. George area, for the purpose of taking 
advantage of the long growing season in that 
area for crops that could not be raised in the 
regions farther north. This was particularly 
true of cotton. 

The long drive or haul that was required to 
cross the continent, across the plains and over 
the mountains, made it very difficult to secure 
textile goods, so Brigham Young felt it would 
be to his advantage and to the advantage to 
the church to raise such things for themselves. 
With that in mind he established a mission on 
the upper reaches of the Virgin River. 

When the Lees were called to “Dixie” 
in 1862, they were accompanied by my 
Grandfather Edwards, who had married 
Electa Jane Lee, the oldest daughter of the 
family. They settled originally on the Santa 
Clara River (more properly a creek, but 
anyway it did provide opportunities for 
getting water for irrigation). In 1863, the 
area experienced such a drought that the 
streams dried up and the settlers suffered 
from not being able to get enough water for 
their crops. They felt that there was a general 
overpopulation of the area, and as a result 
they were urged, many of them, to move. 
There was some exploratory work done in 
late 1863, and then in 1964, quite a number 
of families moved into another part of the 
Virgin River drainage area, into the tributary 
that is generally known as Meadow Valley 
Creek, and in what is now part of southeastern 
Nevada. 

The first migration into that area settled 
in a little area known as Clover Valley, on 
the Clover Valley Creek which is tributary 
to the Meadow Valley Creek. This party was 
led by Bishop Edward Bunker and Dudley 


Leavitt. They were a couple that were pretty 
well paired in opening up new areas. They 
moved in there early in 1864, and then later in 
that year, just a matter of a few months later, 
another party passed through Clover Valley 
on the way to settle in Meadow Valley. This 
was made up of my great grandparents on 
the Lee side and, of course, my grandfather 
Edwards and his family. 

The Edwardses were expecting a new 
arrival in the family. It was quite imminent and 
so they took advantage of the settlement that 
was already established and my grandfather 
put up a shelter in the form of a dugout, roofed 
over with willows, rushes and earth. It was 
here that my uncle, William H. Edwards was 
born, the first white child to be born in what 
is now Lincoln County, Nevada. 

I have heard my grandmother on different 
occasions tell of some of the experiences that 
they had at that time. She used to speak of 
a snake that wound itself in and out of the 
thatched ceiling while she was in bed, and 
she was very indignant when it would lower 
its head and stick its tongue out at her. 

The Indians were quite troublesome in 
Clover Valley, although the whites had made 
a treaty with them for permission to use the 
land. In fact, the story is told that when the 
whites first came in, that they were met by 
a group of Indians, and they indicated their 
desires to settle there. They tell also how these 
Indians set up three piles of refuse and lighted 
them. They piled them over with green twigs 
and willows so as to create a smudge and 
then when things were smoldering good, they 
took a forked stick and ran it into the pile of 
smoldering willows and heaved it up so as to 
release the pent-up smoke. Of course, a big 
billow of smoke went up; and then that was 
followed by the second pile, and the third, 
and then they just sat by and waited. Within 
twenty-four hours, the valley was virtually 



My Family’s Pioneers 


3 


filled of Indians. Of course, it brought in the 
old chief they named Moroni, and then they 
had a pow wow. 

The whites and Indians came to an 
understanding that the whites were to be 
permitted to use the land, the water and 
the range in the area. Regardless of that, the 
opportunities that were offered to the Indians 
who were taking over certain properties, 
particularly cattle and livestock, from the 
whites were too tempting to them. So they 
didn’t adhere to the provisions of the treaty 
too well, and resorted to a lot of thieving. 

There was never any indication of personal 
hostility except on one occasion. Of course, 
the whites did learn that they had to maintain 
a guard, and, in fact, they had their guards 
out continually. On this one evening it was 
stormy; there was a thunderstorm brewing, 
and one of the guards was patrolling the 
corrals when a flash of lightning revealed 
to him an Indian crouched in the corner in 
the act of drawing his bow. This guard fired 
instinctively, and the next morning they 
found the Indian dead with a bullet through 
his heart. This particular guard, knowing that 
the tradition of the Indian for revenge was so 
great, he thought he would not be able to live 
at peace with the Indians in that area, so he 
moved went back into Utah. 

We may have occasion to refer later to 
some of the other activities in this valley. Right 
now, we are concerned with getting these 
people over into Meadow Valley. So it was, 
because of these troubles, and because the rest 
of the family members had settled in Meadow 
Valley, the Edwardses went the following year 
and arrived in Meadow Valley in January 
of 1865. The ones who had preceded them, 
namely the Lee family (and I think they were 
accompanied by one other family, one of the 
Mathews families) had settled themselves 
there. They had built temporary homes of sod. 


They had been visited by county officials from 
Washington County, Territory of Utah. The 
officials had come and helped them to make 
surveys, to lay out a community, and to survey 
a water line by which they could bring water 
from a large spring that rose about one mile 
to the north of the townsite. 

The town itself was laid out in somewhat 
typical Mormon fashion in blocks of 
approximately six acres, streets that were 
laid out according to the compass and ninety 
feet in width, including twelve foot sidewalks. 
The blocks in turn were subdivided into lots 
of four each, averaging about an acre and a 
half in size. Then they were made available to 
the settlers by lot, that is, they would draw for 
the various lots. The center block was set aside 
as a public square, designed to house public 
buildings and recreation areas, a small park, 
and things of that nature. 

Settlers here, of course, were immediately 
concerned with providing themselves with a 
living. The valley was a very attractive one, 
possibly more so at that time than at the 
present time because of the abundance of 
meadow hay. It was virtually filled with one 
big meadow and extended about fourteen 
miles in length and from one to three miles 
in width. 

They also experienced trouble with the 
Indians. The Indians, in the beginning, were 
quite shy. Then they became friendly, and then 
they became, you might say, too friendly and 
became a nuisance. Eventually, they became 
openly hostile. On one occasion one of the 
chieftains died. The Indians wanted to have 
a white man accompany him to the happy 
hunting ground and they announced their 
intention of so doing. There was an old man 
who lived between the community and the 
Indian encampment by the name of Box. He, 
realizing what they planned to do, came to 
the community for protection. 



4 


Elbert B. Edwards 


When the Indians came, they were 
repulsed; in fact, five of them were taken 
prisoner. Then they had more troubles with 
them. Two of them got away and in the 
process of trying to escape they were killed. 
Then subsequently, the other three were 
killed. That created a situation that was very 
upsetting not only to the Indians but to the 
white people as well. 

The whole tribe then became quite hostile 
and the settlers sent for help to St. George. 
The St. George church authorities dispatched 
a unit of militia, some twenty in number 
to provide protection for the people. But at 
the same time they cautioned them that it 
would be impossible to spare that many men 
indefinitely, so unless the local settlers could 
find the resources with which to take care of 
their own problems they had better give up 
the settlement and move back into Utah. But 
for such time as was necessary, the militia 
would be permitted to stay there and help 
them fortify themselves. 

So, accordingly, a fort was built in which 
the houses were all enclosed. The houses 
were constructed in the form of a court; they 
opened on a common courtyard. The fort 
itself was open to the south. In any case, when 
the militia left, after a period of a few weeks, 
about half of the people who had moved in 
the interim moved out with them. 

They were all urged to move, but 
Grandmother Lee was, you might say, a 
matriarch of the group. She was determined 
that she had moved enough, that she had been 
forced out of Missouri and out of Illinois. 
After she had settled in Utah in Tooele, she 
had been called to Santa Clara. She had moved 
from Santa Clara to St. George, and from St. 
George up to Meadow Valley. Now she had 
found a place that she liked and she was going 
to stay there, regardless of the Indians. 


She did have trouble with the Indians 
herself. On one occasion when the men 
were in the field she was practically alone, 
alone except for a little Indian girl that the 
family had adopted. Two Indians put in an 
appearance at the door an demanded the gun 
that hung on the wall. She, of course, refused 
to let them have the gun and they became very 
impudent. One of them reached for an arrow 
to put in his bow, and so Grandmother let fly 
with a stick of stove wood and knocked it from 
his hands. Then she charged with another 
stick and they left. 

The settlement progressed quite 
satisfactorily in spite of these Indian problems. 
A major factor in the settlement, although not 
necessarily a part of it was the development 
of mines in the vicinity of Pioche. These 
had been discovered the year previous to 
the migration into Meadow Valley. William 
Hamblin of Gunlock, again one of the early 
settlers at Dixie or southern mission, had 
been approached by Indians at that time 
and they showed him samples of what they 
called ‘Panacker’ which he identified as silver 
ore. In any case, they offered to show him 
the location of this silver ore in return for a 
supply of corn. He went with them to the site 
of what became the Panaca ledge in Pioche. 
He staked a claim to it, and from then on the 
development of the prospects of the mines 
became a vital and prominent factor in the 
life in that area, and also in the community. 

When the Lees first moved into the valley, 
they found a small contingent of soldiers 
separated from General Connors command 
who stated that they were surveying for a road 
from Fort Crittenden in northern Utah to the 
Colorado River. I would presume that would 
mean to go on down to connect with Fort 
Mojave on the Colorado. They themselves 
were quite interested in the silver mine, 



My Family’s Pioneers 


5 


and the people there, that is the settlers, felt 
that they were much more interested in the 
silver mines than they were in establishing 
the road. In any case, following a visit of the 
church authorities from St. George to the new 
settlement, they stated that on their return 
they met a number of prospectors coming in. 
They felt that these prospectors were going to 
be a factor, in that they would probably want 
to take over land and water rights. For that 
purpose, the church sent a number of families 
to hold the gains that they had made. 

I discussed to some extent the Clover 
Valley settlement of 1864, and the troubles 
that they had there with the Indians. I think 
probably, however, before I go into that any 
further, I should review another problem 
that they had with the Indians in which 
the two communities were concerned. 
During this period of time, there were also 
a number of prospects being opened up in 
the Irish Mountain country generally known 
as the Pahranagat mines in the vicinity 
of Pahranagat Valley, and there was some 
visiting back and forth. On one occasion, a 
miner from Pahranagat Valley by the name 
of Rogers was visiting in the Meadow Valley 
area. He left to return to Pahranagat Valley. 
There was an Indian, however, who came to 
the whites with the story that Rogers had been 
killed enroute to Pahranagat Valley. 

The Panaca settlers, observing an Indian 
with the clothes they identified as those of 
Rogers”, took him into custody and got a 
confession from him. Then they took him 
to the place of the murder. Enroute there, 
the posse met a group of the miners coming 
from the Pahranagat Valley looking for 
Rogers. They expected foul play, but they were 
attributing it to the Mormons themselves. 
They all went together with the Indian to the 
site of the killing—in the vicinity of Bennett 


Springs and Bennett Pass, just about eleven 
miles west of the Panaca townsite. They found 
the evidence there, of course, found the body, 
and so the posse of miners from Pahranagat 
Valley area just took charge. They tied a rope 
around the neck of the Indian (the Indians 
name, incidentally, was Okus) and they 
started out to Panaca at a full gallop. The story 
is that they galloped all the way and the Indian 
led them all right into Panaca. 

In any case, after a little discussion, they 
decided that they were going to hang Okus. 
Okus agreed that he was a bad Indian, and 
that he deserved to be killed for what he 
had done. But he objected to being hung; he 
thought that he should be shot so that the bad 
blood could be let out. 

During the discussions that were held, 
Okus implicated a Clover Valley Indian, 
known as Bushhead, and generally identified 
as a trouble-maker. So this same posse from 
Pahranagat Valley mines went on to Clover 
Valley to take Bushhead into custody, and 
they did that. After a general meeting with 
the Indians at which Chief Moroni presided, 
Moroni conceded that Bushhead was a bad 
Indian also, that he deserved to die, and so 
they also hung him. 

Because of the general troubles that 
were experienced in Clover Valley, the loss 
of livestock, the general deprivations, the 
constant fear in which the settlers lived, the 
limited size of the settlement and all, this 
colony site was abandoned in 1866, and 
the settlers moved. Some of them went into 
Panaca, others back into various places in 
Utah. There was nothing left in Clover Valley, 
and no activity there for a period of about 
three years. 

At that time, however, in 1869, my 
Grandfather Woods moved in. He had 
previously been assigned to settle on the 



6 


Elbert B. Edwards 


upper Muddy River; a number of settlements 
had previously been made there in 1865. The 
settlement had been established in St. Thomas, 
and another one by the name of St. Joseph in 
1865. One had been made at West Point, and 
Overton had been settled. He was asked to 
go down there on the area somewhat to the 
north of West Point. On arriving there, he 
found that the water supply had disappeared. 
There was water only during the spring of the 
year. Having previously become acquainted 
with Clover Valley, he asked for permission 
to settle there. This permission was granted, 
and in 1869, he moved in there and did some 
repair work in the old fort that had been built. 
That would permit him to move his family 
in. In the first part of May, he took his family, 
who had been in St. George, to Clover Valley. 

There had been a sawmill established 
in that vicinity; a fellow by the name of 
Stephen Sherwood, who was also interested 
in the mines around Pioche had brought a 
sawmill in and was getting out some lumber. 
He contracted with my grandfather to haul 
lumber to the various camps that were 
around, particularly Pioche and some into 
Panaca. 

They also began to experience trouble 
with the Indians. On frequent occasions, my 
grandmother was left alone with her family 
in Clover Valley. The trouble with the Indians 
was limited pretty much to thievery. They 
quite early came in and made a raid in which 
they drove of f several head of horses. On 
another occasion when my grandfather was 
in the mountains at the sawmill, they made 
another raid and took off practically all the 
horses in the valley. Fortunately, immediately 
after the raid was made, a man came through 
from Panaca, and word was sent by him to 
Grandfather, advising him of the raid. 

He suspected that they were the Muddy 
Valley Indians, and they would pursue a 


certain route. So he, with others, cut across 
country and intercepted them; crept up on 
their camp at night, got the drop on them, 
and took them captive. They were, of course, 
young bucks, so he took the leader of this 
group as a hostage, cautioning the others that 
if they didn’t return all of the horses that had 
been stolen within five days, he would take 
the life of this hostage. They took the Indian 
back to Clover Valley and put him to work 
clearing rocks out of the field. Within five days 
the others were back, not only with the horses 
but with practically the entire tribe, including 
the chief and the older men of the tribe. 

The chief agreed that the young bucks 
were bad, and that they should be punished. 
So Grandfather took the leader of the young 
bucks and tied him to a post. He took a 
blacksnake whip and put it in the hands of one 
of his buddies and told him to punish his own. 
The young buck, of course, was very loath to 
punish his own leader and so the old chief 
himself jumped up, took the whip and started 
laying it on. On the third lash, my Grandfather 
stepped in and said, “That’s enough. We won’t 
punish him anymore.” He then went out and 
brought in a two year old steer, butchered it, 
and treated the entire tribe to a feast. From 
that time on, he never experienced any trouble 
with the Indians at all. 

There is a little sequel to that story that I 
like to tell, although it jumps ahead sometime 
to 1916. At that time I was in the kitchen one 
afternoon, watching my mother at her work 
when a shadow came over the window. We 
looked up and saw a sight there that I will 
never forget. It was a face framed between his 
hands as he shaded his eyes so he could see 
into the interior of the room, the face of an 
old Indian. It was a face that was worn and 
wrinkled and browned with the weather of 
many years. He was just peering impassively 
and intently into the room. Mother, of course, 



My Family’s Pioneers 


7 


was used to Indians and to having them 
around, so she just called out, “Hello.” There 
was no answer; the old Indian just continued 
to peer in. “Hello, there.” No answer. “What 
do you want?” No answer. Well, she herself 
was becoming a little nervous, not being able 
to get a response out of him because they 
generally were quite responsive to her. But 
all of a sudden his face broke out into one of 
the most pleasing smiles you ever looked at, 
although of course it was totally toothless, 
and he said, “Ho, ho, you Lyman’s papoose.” 
(Lyman was the name of my grandfather.) 
He dashed around to the door, came into the 
room and took my mother and just waltzed 
her around singing that little song, “You 
Lyman’s papoose, Lyman’s papoose.” Then 
he told us that story. He was the Indian that 
my grandfather had tied up to the post and 
then saved from having a whipping. They 
had been friends through the years, although 
it had been many years since they had met. 
Grandfather was eighty-five years old at 
the time; he was visiting there with us, that 
particular time he was taking his afternoon 
nap. When the old Indian found that he was 
in the vicinity, in the house, he just went over 
and squatted down by the bedroom door and 
waited until Grandfather came out. When 
Grandfather came out, there was a reunion 
of old friends such as I have never witnessed 
before or since. While the clan or group of 
Indians were in that area, that old Indian 
came down and spent the best part of every 
day following Grandfather around from place 
to place, whatever he was doing. 

This is a story that I have heard from only 
one source, my father. Of course, there weren’t 
very many around that had the memory that 
went back that far. It is the story of Navaho 
Hen. 

During the ' 60’s, the people in southern 
Utah particularly were plagued by the Navaho 


raiders. They came up from Arizona, across 
the Colorado River and on up into the settled 
portions of southern Utah. They would round 
up and run off livestock, Of course they were 
pursued by posses and they in turn committed 
various other depredations. In making the 
raids, it was customary for them to set tire to 
haystacks, barns, outlying buildings, and so 
on, to divert the attention of the settlers while 
they got away with the stock. It created quite a 
hysteria among the settlers, particularly when 
they knew there were raiders in the area. 

The story had come through to Panaca, of 
course, that there were Navahos in the area 
and that they were reaching right up into the 
Panaca latitudes. The hysteria spread, and 
Panaca, after all, was just as subject to the 
Indian depredations as the other communities 
if the Indians were so inclined. So the people 
were apprehensive. 

There were a couple of brothers among 
the early settlers of Panaca, the McIntosh 
brothers, Will and Henry. Henry and Will 
McIntosh had need of construction timber, 
and so they had made preparations to go 
into the mountains to the east of Panaca, up 
in the vicinity of the charcoal kilns to get out 
timber. They went up in the afternoon of the 
day, arriving there late evening. They prepared 
to make camp, unhitching the horses, taking 
them out of harness, hobbling them, and 
turning them out to graze. They wanted to 
keep the horses in the vicinity of the camp, 
however, so when they started up the canyon 
to the top of the hill, Henry started out to get 
around them to drive them down the canyon. 

Enroute to get around and get ahead of the 
horses, he had to pass through heavy timber, 
underbrush and so on, so that the vision of 
them was obscured. His brother Will, from 
the hilltop where they were making camp, 
could see his problem and he called out to try 
to direct him correctly. Henry was crashing 



8 


Elbert B. Edwards 


through the underbrush, couldn’t hear 
anything except on one occasion when he 
stopped to catch his breath and to reconnoiter. 
In any case, he heard the words, “Run, Hen, 

I” 

run! 

There was one thing uppermost in the 
minds of both of them, and that was the 
Navahos. Hearing just those sketchy words 
intended for instruction, Hen interpreted 
them as words of alarm and could think of 
nothing but Navahos raiding the camp. So 
Hen took off toward Panaca. 

He crashed down through the ravine. 
Fortunately or unfortunately as the case 
might be, running through the brush, one 
of the horses loomed up in front of him and 
he threw himself on that horse and took off 
for Panaca, hobbles and all. After sometime 
crashing down through the ravine on a 
hobbled horse, he did have presence of mind 
enough to get off and take off the hobbles 
and then he really made time toward Panaca. 
Arriving there in just a matter of a couple of 
hours, he gave the alarm. 

The people, of course, were upset 
about it. They recognized the danger. They 
immediately set out to get the guards out, 
to get the fortifications up, and then waited 
until daylight, in the meantime organizing 
a posse to see if there was a possibility of 
rescuing Will. 

They started off at daybreak. After going 
up toward the mountain, they were well 
enroute when off in the distance they saw 
approaching dust. In a few minutes it was 
close enough for them to recognize Will 
coming post haste to report that the Navahos 
had captured Hen. 

They recognized him coming in and 
someone said, “Well, there comes your 
Navaho.” That did something for the 
community; it gave them something to laugh 
at, to relax over, to talk about. It rebuilt their 


morale and they recognized that life would 
be enjoyable to them. 

Stock raising became the dominant 
industry with which Grandfather was 
concerned in Clover Valley. The area provided 
a very rich range land at that time, much 
more so than now, since overgrazing and 
drought together have had their effect on 
the productivity of the area. They were very 
successful with their stock raising, although 
there was not always a market available for 
everything that they had. They continued to 
resort to utilizing other resources, particularly 
that of the timber in the area. While the 
quantity of timber was limited—long before 
now it has been exhausted—they did make 
use of it and about 1890, Grandfather Woods 
and his future son-in-law, my father, George 
Edwards, went into a partnership and 
acquired the saw mill interests of Sherwood, 
who had been mentioned before. They 
operated it, pretty much as a family project 
with Grandfather and my father and the 
Woods boys. 

There were a number of them in the 
family that were provided with employment. 
They sawed a lot of timber, of course, for 
the mining developments in Pioche, for the 
mining and home developments in Pioche 
and Panaca, extending it as far as Eagle Valley 
in the north, and then later for the mines 
that opened up in the Delamar. At this time, 
too, there was considerable work being done 
by the projection of the railroad south from 
Milford, and they provided a lot of the timbers 
that were required for that construction work. 

An interesting aspect of that production 
is that Grandfather and Father together 
always took the choicest of the lumber and 
sawed it up in convenient sizes; set it aside to 
cure under the most favorable circumstances 
for the construction of caskets for burial 
purposes. The frontier area, of course, was 



My Family’s Pioneers 


9 


totally dependent on the local resources for 
taking care of their own dead. There were no 
morticians, mortuaries, or anything of that 
nature. Whenever there was a death in town, 
immediately after you could hear the whine 
of saws and the pounding of hammers in a 
little shop that was just across the street from 
where we went to grammar school. We were 
always aware by the sound, if for no other 
reason than that it meant there was a death. 

My father was just four years old when 
he came into the state. He was born in Cache 
Valley, Utah, at Wellsville in 1860, and he 
grew up under the most primitive of the 
pioneering conditions. The Edwardses before 
him had been interested in the mechanical 
trades. His grandfather, Esaias Edwards, 
had established sawmills in both Tooele and 
Cache County, and had also constructed grist 
mills and molasses mills. In fact, he was also 
credited with having a whiskey still in Cache 
County when he was there. He produced 
a very satisfying product known as “Valley 
Tan.” (Incidentally, I think Mark Twain 
mentioned the “Valley Tan” in Roughing It as 
he went through that general section.) There 
was also a newspaper named “Valley Tan.” 
I think that Grandfather Edwards and my 
father also inherited some of these mechanical 
tendencies. 

In any case, the societies of these missions, 
as they were called to come out, were made up 
somewhat selectively of different trades and 
different capacities of the membership. They 
sought, of course, to have those who could 
meet the mechanical needs, the building 
trades. The various cultural pursuits too, were 
represented; they always wanted a fiddler to 
provide recreational dancing and that sort 
of thing. 

Grandfather Edwards’ trade was that of a 
wheelwright, although of course he was also 
good in cabinet making, general carpentry, 


and so on. As my father grew up, he was 
subjected to that type of training. I have 
heard him say on many occasions that as a 
child, he used to hold the candle while his 
father worked at night to meet the demands 
of the freighting trade that was carried on as 
a result of the demands of the mines and the 
mills in that area. 

Then, Grandfather Edwards died at a 
relatively early age. He died in 1883 with 
quite a young family. My father, being the 
oldest, assumed the major responsibilities 
for providing for the needs of the family. He 
did this early in pursuing the opportunities 
for employment that were offered in the 
area and elsewhere in connection with the 
mines and milling. He had naturally learned 
considerable in construction the use of tools 
in handling wood and so on. At Bullionville 
and at Pioche he did quite a lot of work in mill 
construction. He even, on occasion, went out 
into White Pine County and did some work 
in the vicinity of Treasure City and Hamilton. 
Of course, those sites were relatively of short 
duration, and so it wasn’t very long until he 
was back pursuing other arts. In about 1890, 
he went into the sawmill business with his 
prospective father-in-law. 

With the exhaustion of the timber supply 
in the mountains, Father turned to various 
other avenues and was acquiring parcels 
of land in Meadow Valley as opportunities 
presented themselves. So he carried on 
farming; he had a few cattle on the range, but 
was still dependent on various other avenues 
at least for money for operation. 

Delamar provided some opportunities. 
I know that he used to harvest ice in the 
wintertime when the winters were rigorous 
enough to provide it. Then during the 
summer, he would haul ice to Delamar and 
peddle it from door to door. It provided an 
interesting market and in summertime, was 



10 


Elbert B. Edwards 


always in demand. This was also an activity 
that I engaged in after I got big enough to 
do it, by virtue of the fact that we had no 
refrigeration at all. During the summertime 
there was nothing quite so welcome as a little 
relief from the heat. 

Of course, the changes that were made 
in the economy of the time, a transition 
from animal power to steam power, from 
wagon train to railroad freighting created 
changes all the way along. They opened up 
new opportunities, but exhausted old ones, 
so the freighting by team and wagon was 
something that tended to come and go. It 
came as new prospects were opened up and 
went out as these new prospects might or 
might not justify extension of railroads. In 
any case, during the wintertime when there 
was a lapse in the handling of livestock and 
farming, Father was generally out on the road 
for several months, hauling freight, hauling 
ore from prospects and mines to mills. 

This was a rugged life. It was during the 
wintertime; there was excessive cold in the 
mountains and out on those roads; there 
was a minimum of shelter; they were out in 
all kinds of weather. During stormy weather 
there was little chance to get dry or warm and 
there were weeks at a time when they really 
never felt warm. It was a way of providing for 
the needs of a growing family. 

Of course, they would be traveling loaded 
on one way and empty on the other way. They 
would generally have to spend one night, 
anyway, out both ways. On such occasions 
they would go as long as they could before 
making camp. Their first concern was taking 
care of their horses after which they would 
make camp for themselves. Generally they 
spread their beds under the wagon to provide 
such shelter as it would offer. 

Their diet at that time was anything but 
satisfactory because they didn’t have time to 


do any cooking. Mother tried to keep them 
supplied with a supply of homemade bread 
at least. Whenever an opportunity presented 
itself, whenever she knew of anyone who 
was going off in that direction, she generally 
dispatched what she could in the way of 
home cooked goods. Of course, that type of 
economy also passed on. I think probably the 
last of that kind of activity that he carried on 
would have been about 1912. 

The coming of World War I in 1914, of 
course, tends to date things somewhat in my 
mind in that there was the period before the 
war, and the period after the war, and the 
activities that the war itself contributed to. 
I know that with the coming of the war in 
1914, we thought that there would be a greater 
demand for an increase in farm production 
and so he went ahead and extended his 
holdings and also his cultivation. Cultivation 
was limited in the valley however, because of 
the limited supply of water that was necessary 
for irrigation. 

There had been effort to build a railroad 
into the area as early as 1890. The railroad, 
prior to that time, had been extended south 
of Salt Lake City as far as Milford. Milford 
was the railhead for many years. There were 
various interests that tried to extend it on 
south. The Oregon Shortline Railroad, as 
early as 1890, had extended a railroad grade 
on down through Clover Valley and down 
Clover Canyon as far as the present site of 
Caliente. But they had financial troubles 
and had to discontinue their expansion. In 
1893, the financial panic of that year upset 
the plans considerably, so they let lapse their 
interest in the grade, and the railroad grade 
was taken over by the county government for 
non-payment of taxes. 

Then Senator W. A. Clark of Montana, 
the copper king, became interested in the 
railroads. He came in and purchased the 



My Family’s Pioneers 


11 


county right to the right-of-way and began the 
construction of a railroad, planning to run it 
down over the existing grade to Caliente, and 
from thence on down through the Meadow 
Valley Wash to Moapa and through Las Vegas. 

When Clark began to take control, it 
brought out the Union Pacific interest, 
dominated at this time by E. I-I. Harriman. 
There was an open conflict between the two 
over the control of that railroad grade. The 
story is very well told in other sources and I 
don’t think we need to go into that. 

The construction through the Clover 
Valley during those periods, the first one the 
laying out of the railroad grades and the next 
of the railroad itself, contributed greatly to 
the economy in that area. It contributed not 
only to the economy but, although it was of 
relatively short duration, it contributed a lot to 
the lives of the people in the valley. There was 
a little isolated frontier valley and community 
and then all of a sudden, here were thousands, 
you might say, of workmen building a railroad 
grade down through here, demanding food 
for themselves, food for their animals, and 
providing other interests. It added greatly 
during these years to the life that was carried 
on in that particular area. 

My mother’s reminiscences were filled to 
a great extent with discussion of the activities 
of this period in which the coming of large 
numbers of people into the valley influenced 
their family life, influenced the growth and 
development of her brothers, the various 
temptations that were offered to them that 
they never had before, the different types of 
people that came in, and so on. She used to 
tell of many instances in which people would 
come through, looking for work, were unable 
to find it, and were destitute. Her father 
would take them in, supply them with what 
was necessary for them to go to the other 
fields. The pioneers of the area, in any case, 


were dependent upon their own resources 
when it came to doctoring and nursing. 
Many of those that came by were in need of 
such treatment and in what might be termed 
typical frontier and pioneer hospitality, they 
were given everything that the residents could 
do for them. 

Mother grew up in the valley, and she 
went to school there. The school was also 
typical of the frontier days; it was the one- 
room affair, one teacher teaching probably 
as many as eight grades. In many cases where 
an individual was interested in learning, he 
or she might spend as much as three years in 
the eighth grade serving as an assistant to the 
teacher. Mother herself repeated the eighth 
grade, once in any case. When she graduated 
from there, she went to Pioche and took the 
teacher’s examination that was prepared by 
the state. 

Of course at that time, the state lacked a lot 
in educational organization. There was a State 
Superintendent of Public Instruction, but the 
position of the Deputy State Superintendent 
of Public Instruction was an ex-officio office 
held by the District Attorney of the county. He 
administered the state examination that was 
given to determine if people were qualified to 
teach. Mother passed it successfully, and that, 
combined with the fact she had a good moral 
character, gained her the certificate qualifying 
her to teach. She taught, I think, for a period 
of three years in that little valley. In 1893, she 
was married to George L. Edwards of Panaca, 
moved to Panaca and made her home in that 
community from that time on. 

She played an important part, I think, in 
the affairs of the valley. As a church member, 
she had a particular assignment. She had 
learned much in practical care of the sick 
from her father and her mother and would be 
classified today as a very good practical nurse. 
As we have noted, communities of that time 



12 


Elbert B. Edwards 


were largely dependent on this type of help. 
I know that many was the time I have gotten 
up in the morning (I habitually have been an 
early riser), just in time to find her getting 
home from having spent the entire night out 
taking care of the sick. She would immediately 
start building the fire, preparing for the family 
for the day, taking care of her daily work. I 
often wondered during those days how she 
was able to get by, because it seemed that she 
was gone in some cases night after night, just 
out to help with the sick. Of course, it was all 
a work of the heart. It was an assignment from 
the church, and so there was no consideration 
at any time of any compensation for this. 



2 


Family Life in a 
Mormon Community 


The Mormon community life in Panaca, 
I think was probably typical of that of most 
Mormon communities. The communities 
were established originally to provide a home 
for the Mormon people. The church was 
continually growing. They were proselyting 
all over Europe, as well as the United States. 
At that time they were encouraging people 
to come to the United States and help build 
up the church, and the field of Zion. They 
were continually reaching out and occupying 
such lands as were adaptable to building of 
communities. Their economy was designed to 
be in the interests, or, that is, tied to the land 
for permanency. Brigham Young cautioned 
the people, the church members, to stay away 
from the mines. He said that the mines were 
of temporary duration and they would be 
destructive of the peoples aims and goals and 
ideals, that they were there to build homes for 
permanency and that such homes could come 
only from being tied to the soil through the 
industries of grazing and of farming. 

So it was that the people in Panaca 
received similar instructions from their 


immediate supervisor, the mission president 
in St. George, not to engage in the mining 
activities themselves, that the duration and 
the permanency of their lives would depend 
on the soil, that they could take advantage of 
the mines by using them for markets for their 
produce rather than for their labor direct. 

So they raised cattle, and cattle in the 
valley and the surrounding mountains 
produced abundantly. Horses, of course, were 
also a very significant factor in that there was 
a great demand for horses for transport, for 
freighting and so on. The valley produced 
heavily in hay which was in constant demand 
in Pioche and other mining areas around. 
There were continually loads of hay being 
hauled to serve the livery stables in those 
areas. Another way in which it was common 
for the people to contribute to the mines 
was through the harvesting of wood for fuel. 
The hills around the valley were very heavily 
covered with juniper. Juniper makes a very 
fine wood fuel, and there were a lot of the 
people of the valley that were devoting almost 
all of their time to the hauling of wood to 



14 


Elbert B. Edwards 


the mines and the mills. Also they used it for 
burning of coal, they referred to it in that light 
anyway; the charcoal that they made for the 
final work of the blacksmith forges and the 
assay offices and things of that nature. 

Shortly after the community was 
established—within about two years I 
think—the people got together and organized 
a branch of the Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile 
Association, speaking of this generally as 
the Panaca Cooperative Store or the Panaca 
Coop. Practically all of the home owners 
bought shares in the store. Then with the 
supplementary demand of Bullionville 
(incidentally, Bullionville was a milling town 
for the Pioche ores that had been established 
just across) the feeling was affected by this 
also. Although the miners would come and go, 
it seemed that the church was planted there 
forever, and so the church persisted. 

Reading was an important activity. 
Reading was limited, of course, to what might 
be available; and not too much was available. 
For that reason, those who had a love for 
reading resorted a great deal to the Scriptures 
and became quite proficient in the knowledge 
of the Old Testament, the New Testament, 
the church scriptures themselves. The Book 
of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, of 
course, were also accepted as holy scriptures 
by the church. 

Furthermore, the practice of the church 
in its lay priesthood further contributed 
to an intensive knowledge among many of 
its members in the Scriptures. The practice 
within the religious meetings themselves was 
that any member of the congregation was 
subject to a call to address the congregation. 
The membership felt that they always had 
to be prepared for this, and also led to an 
intensive study. 

The school, of course, contributed also in 
that interest was stirred among the students 


in such things as spelling bees which carried 
over into the community. It also fostered a 
personal development of the people in that 
they became very proficient in that sort of 
thing. My mother was one of the best spellers 
that I ever met. She could spell most anything. 
I found, though, that when I got away from my 
mother, I always had to resort to a dictionary 
to carry on any of my writing activities. 

The church was organized so as to 
provide for the needs and to contribute to the 
development of people of all ages. The Sunday 
School, which was designed for instruction 
for all ages, with classes organized for those 
of cradle age, a cradle roll, which of course 
was basically a baby-sitting organization to 
take care of the infants and relieve parents for 
work in their field of endeavor. From there on 
there was the kindergarten group and then 
groups of different ages right on up to the 
adult, providing in all about eight different 
classes for the people of different ages. Text 
material was outlined annually by the general 
authorities of the church in Salt Lake City to 
take care of their learning needs. 

In addition to the Sunday School, there was 
another auxiliary organization known as the 
Primary, designed to provide for instructional 
and social needs of children between the ages 
of four and twelve. This meeting was held 
sometime during the week, generally about 
midweek, and the children were brought in 
for an hour of such instruction. They would 
get instruction in such fields as church history, 
in simple craftwork, and social niceties. They 
would have parties on occasions at which they 
received dancing instruction. 

Another group was known as the Mutual 
Improvement Association. This was divided 
between the young ladies and the young 
men, so we had the Young Ladies Mutual 
Improvement Association and the Young 
Men’s Mutual Improvement Association. 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


15 


Although they were generally combined for 
preliminary exercises, they would separate 
and go into studies that were designed to 
meet the needs of members between the ages 
of twelve on up. 

The boys would start out with something 
in the nature of the Boy Scout program. In 
fact, the Mormon church was, I think, the 
first major organization in the United States to 
accept the Boy Scout program in its entirety. 
The Boy Scout program has been greatly 
influenced by the activity, the interest, the 
study, and the organization that had been 
provided by the church. Particularly is this 
reflected in the ‘Explorer’ program that is such 
a prominent part of the Boy Scout program 
now. We have also adopted the Cub Scout 
program and extended that into the Primary. 
(That, of course, is of recent years and doesn’t 
apply to the early stages of the organization 
in Panaca..) 

The MIA provided much for social and 
cultural development of the people of these 
ages. They maintained a library of such books 
as they could accumulate that were of general 
reading value. They placed a lot of their 
stress on drama, doing work comparable to 
the little theater in many communities. They 
carried on, sponsored, many of the dances 
that were held in the community, organized 
picnics, candy pulls, and parties of a general 
social nature for relaxation and enjoyment. 
There was lesson material too; designed for 
the young men that would have to do with 
preparation for life, preparation for the 
professions, providing them with a general 
knowledge of the responsibility that would 
come with manhood and so on. There were 
comparable lesson materials for the young 
ladies on preparation for keeping the home, 
preparation for family life and that sort of 
thing. Once a month anyway, they held a 
conjoint meeting of the young men and young 


women. This was generally devoted to lesson 
material that would be of advantage to them 
jointly and also to social affairs. 

Another auxiliary association was that 
of the Relief Society. This was basically a 
woman’s organization and designed generally 
to meet many of the demands that were 
characteristic of a pioneer and frontier society. 
It was in such a capacity that my mother was 
enlisted as a practical nurse to take care of the 
assignment that I have previously reviewed. 
The group as an organization also met weekly, 
sometime during the week. The ladies would 
gather together in class work, they would 
also have directions on work in the mission 
and activity through the year as designed by 
the church headquarters in Salt Lake City. 
This would be carried on down through the 
mission to stake organization to the local 
wards. Monthly, they would have an activity 
period in which new ideas would be brought 
in any number of activities. New ideas came 
in on household conveniences, on artistic 
arrangement, on various projects, on clothing, 
cooking. They might go into such things as 
cheese making and canning of fruit, things of 
that nature. They would devote one meeting a 
month generally to a social gathering among 
themselves; they would have one devoted 
exclusively religious doctrine, and so on. 
Thus one weekly meeting in each month was 
devoted to lessons in theology, work activities, 
social science and literature, respectively. 

Basically, as the name would imply, the 
Relief Society organization was designed to 
provide for the needs of the people where 
there was hardship or where things could be 
improved, taking care of the sick, providing 
for the needs of the poor. I remember that 
before World War I, the Relief Society 
took upon program of grain storage. They 
were cautioned that the time would come 
when grain would be greatly needed. The 



16 


Elbert B. Edwards 


women of the church, through the Relief 
Society, organized for this purpose and they 
accumulated a great store of wheat. Wheat 
was one thing that they were encouraged to 
store because it was not so readily perishable 
as many of the other commodities. In 
any case, when the war broke out and the 
production of the European grain fields 
was so greatly curtailed, starvation became 
rampant in Europe. The church offered and 
made available this wheat, and it was not only 
gratefully accepted but it was a very important 
factor at that time, providing for the relief of 
the starving in Europe. 

Another basic organization of the church 
was that of the priesthood. This, of course, 
was designed for the male members of the 
church. It was patterned after the original 
priesthood of the original Christian church 
and, for that matter, of the church when it was 
known as the Jewish organization. Thus it was 
divided into the priesthood of Aaron known 
as the Aaronic priesthood, and priesthood 
of Melchizedek, named after the high priest 
of the time of Abraham. The purpose of this 
organization is the administration and the 
running of the church. This priesthood is 
divided into different offices, each assigned 
to perform specific functions. There are also 
special meetings and study groups for the 
priesthood. They meet in groups according 
to age and assignment level. In the case of 
the younger boys, they are ordained to the 
priesthood as deacons at the age of twelve 
years. At the age of fourteen, they are generally 
ordained as teachers. At the age of sixteen 
or seventeen, they are ordained as priests of 
the Aaronic priesthood. In each case, each 
group has definite specific assignments and 
responsibilities that they are to carry out. 

The higher priesthood, or the priesthood 
after the order of Melchizedek, is made up also 
of three different groups. One of them is the 


“elders,” one is “seventies,” and one is “high 
priests.” Each one of these groups, of course, 
also has the responsibility for certain definite 
administrative responsibilities. 

It is interesting to note that the church 
is one of work. The organization of the 
single ward, which is the smallest of the 
administrative groups within the church, 
has 200 different assignments, offering 
opportunity for work for 200 different people. 

Generally, by the time they reach 800 in 
number, the wards are ready to be divided. So 
you might figure that a ward runs generally 
in the neighborhood of 600 membership, 
providing an opportunity for activity and 
work for all those who are capable and willing. 

Of the events that contributed greatly to 
social and public interest in the community 
were the various celebrations that were held. 
The regular or typical days of celebration of 
the nation, of course, were naturally observed. 
The Fourth of July was always a big day. 
But one of the biggest days to be observed 
by the Mormon people in general is that of 
the twenty-fourth of July, generally known 
as “Pioneer Day.” It is a day celebrated in 
observance of the entrance of the original 
Mormon contingent into the Salt Lake Valley, 
July 24,1847. Since that time, and particularly 
during the time of my youth, that was a day 
which was intensely observed and celebrated. 

A typical fourth or twenty-fourth of 
July was planned a long time in advance. 
In preparation, the community solicited 
contributions for necessary operational funds, 
and also for organized groups to carry on the 
various activities that were provided. 

The day would start out with a 
bombardment of artillery or at least an 
artillery facsimile. During the earlier days, 
it was generally what they called “shooting 
the anvils.” They would set up with a couple 
of blacksmith’s anvils. One of them would be 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


17 


set on the ground. On it would be placed an 
iron ring that could be contained in the width 
of the anvil, possibly an inch and a half in 
depth, with a notch for a fuse. This was filled 
with black powder. Then the second anvil 
was superimposed on this to make a tight 
combustion chamber. The fuse was lighted, 
and of course people got out of the way. The 
force required to blow the anvils apart resulted 
in a concussion and artillery-like sound. 
It reverberated through the entire valley. 
This was carried on through the early dawn 
hours until sunrise. Also along with dawn 
came the “band wagon.” This was a wagon 
that was especially designed with seats all 
around the perimeter and crossways on the 
interior to provide seating for the members 
of the local town band. They had been active 
in preparing for the occasion for weeks, were 
well rehearsed and toured the town playing 
martial music. 

I can always remember that there was one 
old fellow in town who always made his own 
preparations for the occasion. He was an old 
Englishman, and he loved to hear the band 
play. His preparations for the occasion meant 
the brewing of a barrel of home-made beer. He 
could always be assured that the band would 
pass his place several times during its tour 
He would stand there with his pitcher of beer 
ready to show his appreciation for the music. 

The band would always finish its tour just 
at sunrise at what we called the Liberty Pole. 
A Liberty Pole today would be known as a flag 
pole, but in my memory, this Liberty Pole was 
something else. It was the tallest thing I ever 
saw. It was supplied with wooden pegs, all the 
way to the top and the flag was carried up to 
be hung. As it was being carried up, the band 
would play a stirring rendition of “The Star 
Spangled Banner” and it was something to 
really stir the enthusiasm and the patriotism 
of everyone who attended our observance. 


It was a great day for the youngsters, too. 
We always insisted on those occasions on 
making our beds out on the lawn, so that we 
could get the full force of the blasting and the 
sounds of revelry, and to be out where we could 
see the bandwagon come by. As we grew older, 
we grew more venturesome and we would slip 
out and join those engaged in shooting the 
anvils (although by that time the anvils had 
been pretty much replaced by dynamite). 

Uncle Eh, one of my father’s brothers, 
always had enough youthful spirit left in him 
that he was out, I think right up until he was 
seventy years of age anyway, touching off a 
string of dynamite. Lor the Lourth of July 
celebration, and as the sun came up, he always 
had thirteen half-sticks all fused and ready to 
go. He would get in one corner of the public 
square and walk rapidly along, dropping a 
half a stick of dynamite with a lighted fuse at 
well-spaced intervals so that we wound up with 
salute to the original thirteen colonies. 

The day was, as I say, looked forward to and 
planned by everyone. It was a great day for the 
kids and we used to save our nickels and dimes 
(we didn’t know what pennies were in those 
days; they just didn’t use them) for months 
and weeks in advance. The kid, though, that 
had a dollar to spend on a holiday was really 
fortunate. Most of the time we, I think, figured 
that we could save up four bits, but we put it 
to good use. 

Of course, four bits went a lot farther then. 
There were the regular ice cream cones; they 
were imported for the occasion, although at 
home we generally had a freezer of homemade 
ice cream, too. But that wasn’t like eating it 
with the crowd. We also had bottled pop. We 
generally had a few bottles of home-made 
root beer. But the one thing that stands out 
in my memory was the carameled popcorn 
sticks that were provided for us at the time. I 
never got over my taste for candied popcorn. 



18 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Of course, we had to settle down a little 
after our early morning salute and get the 
chores done and get our breakfast before we 
took off for town. The morning was generally 
featured more by a public meeting for the 
adults. On the Fourth of July, the principal 
observance was for patriotic speeches, the 
reading of the Declaration of Independence 
and things of that nature that the adults 
seemed to thoroughly enjoy. It was always well 
attended. For the kids, it was a period in which 
we could just run free and live in anticipation 
of what was going on for the rest of the day. 

For the really special occasions (they 
were interrupted during the period of World 
War I and didn’t get started until some years 
after), the community staged a genuine old- 
fashioned barbecue. And when I say old- 
fashioned barbecue, it was the pit type that 
cooked the whole animal. My father served on 
the barbecue committee on several occasions, 
and for that occasion, they would delegate 
two of the men to dig a pit, two others would 
provide the wood, two others would keep the 
pit heated for a period of at least twenty-four 
hours in advance; that is, burning the wood 
in the pit and thoroughly heating the ground 
around it. Then there would be a couple of 
others that would prepare the animal, they 
would butcher it, of course, in advance, and 
it was thoroughly sewed up in burlap that was 
especially prepared for the occasion. They 
lowered it into the pit the evening before it 
was to be used, and then the next day at noon 
they had it out and cut for individual servings. 
Of course, the ladies of the community would 
bring assigned pot-luck dishes, salads and 
that sort of thing. On this occasion, too, the 
neighboring communities of Pioche, Caliente, 
Clover Valley, Eagle Valley, Rose Valley were 
all invited for the occasion. 

After the barbecue, the celebration 
continued, devoting a lot of time to sports 


and contests for the children. There were the 
typical races, straight races, relay races, what 
we called potato races, three-legged races, 
wheelbarrow races, and most everything else 
that could be thought of. There was always a 
monetary prize of fifteen cents, ten cents, or 
five cents for first, second, and third places. If 
a youngster didn’t win in one, he always had 
the opportunity in another. They kept running 
them until he did win. 

After the races, the ladies were given their 
chance, and they were entered in various types 
of contest. They were permitted to throw the 
ball. This was in the nature of a basketball 
they would throw for distance. There was a 
nail driving contest, a wood sawing contest, 
and things of that nature. There were few that 
were interested in competing with my mother, 
and after a few years, she disqualified herself. 
She said it wasn’t really fair that she should go 
in there and win all the contests at pounding 
nails and sawing wood. She did enough of that 
around the house at home, so that she was just 
a good carpenter in her own right. 

This event was followed generally by horse 
racing. Here again, we had quite a variety 
including regular racing, wild horse racing, 
relay racing which involved the saddling of 
the horse (after riding to a certain point, 
getting to a marked goal, changing the saddle 
to another horse and racing back). Relay races 
were also featured on horseback, too. The 
celebration was never complete without a few 
bucking horses. We didn’t know the rodeo as 
such, but we had the basic elements of it. The 
horse riding was done by local cowboys and 
there was probably a little money changed 
hands in side bets. 

The baseball game that generally followed 
featured the town team against either the 
Pioche team or the team from Caliente. 
During the time of the baseball game, the 
smaller youngsters were entertained at a 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


19 


children’s dance; a dance designed especially 
for those youngsters that were not especially 
interested in anything else. 

One thing that featured the afternoon 
celebration was free candy for everyone. I 
recall the candy the hardtack type that came 
in large wooden buckets. We would watch 
carefully and when we saw a half a dozen of 
the elders of the town head for the Coop store, 
we would follow them. Each came out with 
a bucketful of this candy and would just pass 
it around the crowd. We could get a handful 
on one end, and along the middle of the line, 
and at the end of the line. But they enjoyed 
it, it seems, as much as we did, and we had 
candy that lasted us for half a day afterward. 

Of course, the youngster that was able 
to get a few firecrackers for any of those 
celebrations was really king for the day. 
He could get most anything he wanted by 
bartering the coveted explosives. 

I might point out that in observing and 
celebrating the holidays, Caliente specialized 
on the fourth, the twenty-fourth was celebrated 
in Panaca, and Labor Day in Pioche. Each 
community, of course, made it a point to 
invite the neighbors. I think it was these 
days that did most to cement the relations of 
the people of the three communities. They 
got together socially, enjoyed each others’ 
company, complimented each other on their 
efforts, and so on. 

The winter season brought opportunity 
for sports of its own nature. Again, we didn’t 
know the sports as we know them today, but 
we did do a lot of skating on the creek that 
flowed down through the valley. In fact, all 
of the water that was normally used in the 
summer for irrigation was turned on into the 
valley in the wintertime (and this was true 
of the valleys to the north of us, the valleys 
that were drained down through Meadow 
Valley). There was quite an abundance of 


water, and then of course it froze. The water 
would spread out so that the fields themselves 
were sheets of ice, providing an abundance of 
places for skating. In addition to that, we had 
quite a reasonable sized pond that provided 
nice skating. As youngsters, we spent most of 
our free time during the days and weekends, 
skating. Then, as we grew older we would take 
advantage of moonlight nights; build a bonfire 
along the edge of the pond, or sometimes right 
down on the ice, and then skate for hours. 
In like manner, in different times of the year 
when weather permitted, we had moonlight 
picnics, different groups—probably more true 
of the high school groups than of others. 

I wanted to tell about some of the regular 
recreational pursuits of some of the younger 
class there in Panaca as I was growing up. We 
played a lot of baseball and we had a pretty well 
organized team and some very fine players. 
There were some of the dads in the town that 
were as enthusiastic about baseball as any of 
the modern fans. They had played as youths. 
They knew the game and they instructed their 
own sons. So we frequently—looking back it 
seemed frequently— scheduled games with 
the younger set of Pioche. 

When the Pioche boys came down they 
did things in style. They were always able to 
promote a Model T Ford for conveyance. 
It was a treat for them to come to Panaca 
because they were always invited to come 
to visit our gardens. They would fill up on 
carrots; “Mormon apples” they were called. 
When it came to playing a return game, 
though, the Panaca boys had to make different 
arrangements. They were farmer boys; there 
were no automobiles available. They would 
scrounge around and find a team, generally 
an old horse, hitch it to a buggy and load that 
with anywhere from six to nine youngsters— 
they never had more than a team—and take 
off for Pioche. 



20 


Elbert B. Edwards 


There was a lot of good-natured rivalry 
between the younger sets but those methods 
of transportation at that time constituted a 
significant part in our lives. 

Hunting provided a pasttime for any that 
were interested in it, and it was probably my 
favorite sport, rather brought home a .22 rifle, 
and gave it to my two oldest brothers when 
I was just ten years of age. It immediately 
became more my rifle than the theirs by virtue 
of use. I had a cousin just slightly younger than 
I was; he had somewhat the same interests as 
mine. We spent most of our spare daylight 
hours out in the fields or in the neighboring 
hills hunting small game, rabbits, cottontails 
or jack rabbits, and quail. We provided a lot 
of good, wholesome meat for the table. Of 
course, we both had horses and a lot of our 
hunting was done from horseback, and that 
also contributed greatly to a free exploration 
of the surrounding hills. 

I might mention at this time that we 
spent a lot of our time over in what is now 
the Cathedral Gorge State Park. In fact, while 
it was generally known and was generally 
appreciated by the people of the community 
as a very interesting spot, and it was used 
off and on as a picnic site, no one had ever 
paid much attention to it other than just a 
place to look at. But we began delving into 
it, investigating the various underground 
washes and caves that had formed there. We 
were possibly fifteen or sixteen years old at 
the time. We would go home with stories of 
what we had seen, then we got a camera and 
took pictures. It was a native haunt, it seemed, 
for owls and bats. We would find owls’ nests 
with the young, and we would take pictures 
of those. 

Finally, we carried so many stories home 
that our fathers became interested and went 
out with us on occasion. We took them into 
some of the unknown areas. They became 


very enthused. Uncle Will was at that time 
president of the Panaca Commercial Club, a 
sort of a chamber of commerce. Father was 
one of the directors and they took advantage 
of tours of every politician through the state 
and had us show them through. It was in 
this way that I got acquainted first with such 
people as Governor Jim Scrugham (governor 
at that time), with Senator Pat McCarran, and 
a number of other state officials, as well as the 
local county officials. 

On one occasion, I was called out of 
school to go serve as a guide for a party that 
was headed by Governor Jim Scrugham. 
He had in with him at that time, Dr. Mark 
Harrington, the archeologist who at that time 
was doing exploratory work in the Buried City 
in Moapa Valley. They were accompanied 
by representatives from the chamber of 
commerce at Caliente and also of Pioche. We 
gave them the deluxe tour. They were very 
enthused, in fact enthralled, by the beauties 
of the place. 

I would like to take advantage of this 
opportunity to make a correction in what I 
think has possibly been an oversight, although 
probably it is an inconsequential matter. 
Credit for naming the valley Cathedral Gorge 
has been given to a Mrs. Earl Godbey, who 
was the wife of one of the early operators of 
the mill at Bullionville and also of the mines 
at French Consolidated. Mrs. Godbey was 
probably the first to realize the beauties of the 
place. She gave to it, not the name Cathedral 
Gorge, but Cathedral Gulch. So as we were 
growing up, it was known as Cathedral 
Gulch. It was at this meeting with Governor 
Scrugham that State Senator A. L. Scott, an 
attorney from Pioche and a very dedicated 
Lincoln County citizen over many, many 
years, suggested that the name gulch was to 
him very disappointing when applied to such 
a place. It was reminiscent, he said, of the “dry- 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


21 


gulching” areas of the early western history. 
He thought the more dignified name of gorge 
would be much more applicable, and it was 
picked up by the party at that time. Governor 
Scrugham was so enthused about it that he 
initiated or had initiated the legislation for 
establishing a state park, naming it Cathedral 
Gorge. 

I had the opportunity, through those visits 
to get acquainted with such people as Senator 
McCarran, Governor Scrugham at that time 
and later, United States representative and 
senator. It enabled me to get access to their 
offices later in Washington, D. C., for other 
general improvements for southern Nevada. 

Anyway, Cathedral Gorge and the early fun 
that we had just playing around and delving 
into the nooks and crannies and caves played 
quite a part in my early life. 

I remember on one occasion we were 
riding up through the center of the valley and 
we jumped a coyote. I had a dog at the time, a 
cross between a pit bull and a pointer, and as 
soon as we sighted the coyote he took off. There 
were a number of these clay hills that extended 
out into the valley, and the flood waters, as they 
came against them, kept beating against the 
clay until they had cut an underground path 
through those hills. So as the coyote would 
come to one of these, he would dash around 
the hill on horseback and pick up the chase 
on the other side. We would come to another 
rise, the coyote would go through, the dog after 
him, and we dashed around but we didn’t pick 
up any trail on the other side. There had been 
a cave-in and so the coyote had doubled back 
and when we got back around, why here the 
coyote and the dog were having it out on the 
other side. We took care of the coyote. We were 
also in the trapping business and we picked 
up a pretty good piece of fur on that occasion. 

Inasmuch as I have mentioned the 
trapping business, my cousin was more of a 


trapper than I was. He was relatively freer in 
evenings after school than I was, and so he 
had time to run a little line. The only times 
that I could be with him were on Saturdays, 
and even then, my time was somewhat more 
restricted. He ran traps up in the northern 
part of the valley, up into Condor Canyon 
and down around the Cathedral Gorge area. 
He was able to pick up, during the course of 
a season, several pelts of coyotes, bobcats, of 
course an occasional skunk or two. It made 
things interesting if not profitable, although 
he did make a few dollars. 

Incidentally, we never passed up the 
chance to shoot a bobcat, because we could 
always get two dollars bounty from the county 
commissioners. During the course of a year, 
every once in awhile, one of the kids of the 
community would come in with a bobcat 
pelt and we had to go through the formality 
of appearing before a notary public. That was 
a nuisance, so we just saved our pelts until 
the end of the season, and then one of us 
would take them all and go before a notary 
public and swear that they had been killed 
in the county, send them into the county 
commission office, and the bounty of two 
dollars each. 

I think that in view of the total difference 
in the way we lived and the things that we 
did as youngsters during the period we were 
growing up as compared to the way the 
youngsters live today and the things they do, 
even on farms or in rural areas, it might be 
nice to review a typical day’s activity during 
the different seasons of the year. A day’s work, 
regardless of the time of the year, began as 
soon after five o’clock as Dad was able to get 
us out. It began with the daily chores. 

The first thing to be taken care of, of 
course, was the milking of the cows. Everyone 
in the community, most everyone, had one 
or more cows to provide them with dairy 



22 


Elbert B. Edwards 


products. We generally had quite a number 
of cows, not that we got a great deal of milk, 
but because they were not generally blooded 
stock (although eventually we worked into 
that and produced a very select group of Jersey 
heifers). After the milking of course, there was 
the chore of taking care of the milk, separating 
it from the cream and so forth. 

After the milking, or along with the 
milking came the feeding of the livestock; 
the cows, horses, the swine and chicken or 
poultry. We always had chickens, and a lot 
of the time we had ducks. We had ducks 
primarily because of just the interest, and 
sometimes a few turkeys. 

During the spring, summer, and the fall, 
there was always pasture. This pasture varied 
in distance from the house by anywhere from 
a couple of hundred yards to a couple of 
miles. During the fall of the year, we drove the 
animals to the fields, the alfalfa fields which 
were some two miles from home. There, they 
could feed on the tender shoots of the alfalfa 
after we had harvested the third crop. 

After these chores were taken care of (I 
probably might include the harnessing of the 
horses and the hitching them to the wagon if 
we were going into the field), we were ready 
for breakfast and breakfast was generally 
ready for us. 

Breakfast at that time was a meal that was 
comparable to the heartiest meal of the day. It 
generally consisted partly of some hot bread. 
Mother made bread at least three times a 
week, and she would mix it in the evening. By 
morning it would have raised, especially so we 
could have hot yeast biscuits for breakfast. On 
alternate mornings, she would make baking 
powder biscuits or corn bread or something of 
that nature. Of course, potatoes were a staple. 
And we always had a cooked cereal, eggs and 
meat. We ate a lot of honey; we always had a 
good supply of Dixie molasses that was made 


in the St. George area, and then we could have 
our choice of a number of preserves and jellies 
that Mother had put up during the previous 
season. 

Then it was a matter of getting into the 
wagon, and going into the fields or going to 
school, or whatever our daily duties at that 
time of the year were determined to be. If it 
was in the field, we carried our lunch with 
us; and that also was not necessarily a dainty 
bite. If we were spending the day in the fields, 
harvesting hay or other crops, planting or 
irrigating, whatever the chore might be, 
we would generally leave the field around, 
between four and five o’clock, get home in 
time to take care of the evening chores. 

As a general rule, we would do everything 
but the milking before supper; milk the cows 
after supper. Then again there was always the 
matter of feeding the animals for the night, 
and gathering eggs. 

One basic operation at all times of the 
year was fuel, chopping the wood if it was 
necessary to chop it. Father had a brother 
who carried the nickname throughout his 
life of “Cedar Bill,” because he was such an 
outstanding man in the use of an ax. He could 
chop pests or wood so well, there was no one 
in the valley that cared to compete with him 
in any way. They just credited him such being 
the outstanding man. I always thought my dad 
wielded a pretty wicked ax but he couldn’t 
do it with the dexterity that Uncle Will did; 
furthermore, he didn’t like to. So Father, being 
an old sawmill man, came into possession of 
a steam engine, a small engine, operated from 
an upright boiler. He set that up and tied it 
to a buzz-saw. 

During the fall of the year, getting our 
winter supply of wood was one of the big 
responsibilities. Father would generally save 
that type of activity for a Saturday, when he 
could take one or more of the boys along with 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


23 


him to root out the wood we would haul in. 
It took one good day to get a full load, about 
one and one-half cords. 

We had to go anywhere from eight to 
ten miles up into the hills to get a supply of 
the dead juniper. There were several tricks to 
getting it out. Some people liked to concentrate 
on stumps, root out the stumps, feeling the 
stump was the best wood. We concentrated on 
dead trees, and we would like to find a hillside 
where there were a number of such dead trees. 
We would work the team and wagon up as 
high we could on the hillside. As we came to 
a tree we would stop the wagon with the rear 
wheel even with it, tie a heavy log chain that 
was attached to the axle-tree of the wagon and 
then wrap it around the tree, give the horses a 
good slap with the reins, and hit that tree with 
such force that it would drag it out by the roots. 
Two of us would then go on with the wagon, 
and in like manner we would pull over as many 
trees as we figured were required for the load. 
Then we would concentrate on trimming the 
trees and splitting them in convenient sizes to 
load on the wagon. To split the tree trunks we 
used wedges and a sledge hammer. We would 
work generally until about two o’clock in the 
afternoon, figure we would have a load, and 
would come around again with the wagon, load 
up the trees, and come on home. 

We spent several weeks accumulating this 
pile of wood. When we had the winter supply, 
Father would fire up the steam boiler. It wasn’t 
a simple matter to steam it up because it took 
time to do it. He had to screen the water, 
make sure that it was tree from any refuse or 
anything of that nature. Then once he had the 
steam up, he had to keep it heated through 
the night. But when he got the old buzz-saw 
whining through those heavy stumps, you 
could hear that singing all over town. 

There was a typical steam engine whistle 
on the boiler, and he liked to get out in the 


early morning and give a little blast on that 
whistle. He would sound it off at noon, and 
then at quitting time in the evening. We 
always had a yard full of curious youngsters 
when we were operating that old steam 
engine. That, like all good things, it seems, 
went the way of the steam locomotive on the 
railroad, but a lot sooner. As soon as Father 
found that he could do the same work with 
a relatively simple single-piston combustion 
engine, he made the investment. After that, 
there was no romance in the wood sawing 
business. 

The daytime activities would also vary 
with the season. Spring called for a preparation 
of the soil. Lots of time and muscle was spent 
in hauling out fertilizer, in the cleaning of 
ditches, the building of dams, the diverting of 
water, and the distribution of water during the 
early months. Although the planting season 
would not begin until late May and early June, 
Father liked to get water soaking into his 
alfalfa field as early as February and March. 
He had observed that alfalfa roots would go 
down as much as twelve and fourteen feet, and 
he felt that he ought to water down that far 
when there was an abundance of water; that it 
would serve the alfalfa much better, and at the 
same time, release the water in later months 
for other crops. That was pretty well borne 
out, too, because you could generally harvest 
a full crop the first crop of alfalfa without any 
irrigation, after he found it necessary to divert 
it for other purposes. His first crop of alfalfa 
was always an outstanding crop. The land, 
of course, had to be plowed. He generally 
liked to soften it by previous watering and in 
preparation for the planting. 

The potatoes were an important crop, and 
the selection of choice potatoes for seed and 
the cutting of the seed occupied us for several 
days. We followed that almost immediately 
with the planting of our corn. 



24 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Everything was done by hand, and we had 
a regular set routine. There were generally 
three of the boys; I had two brothers older than 
myself. Father would get on the old turn plow. 
We would follow along behind the plow. We 
separated, divided the row into three sections, 
and stationed ourselves at different places in 
the field according to the sectioning. As he 
came along, we would fall in behind him, 
dropping the potato eyes at spaces of about 
one foot. He would then go to the other side 
of the field, and we would go over there and 
follow him through that. Then he would make 
another round in which he would cover the 
planting, during which, of course, we could 
sit and rest, throw potatoes at each other, or 
any kind of mischief that we could think of. 
Then on the third round, we would take up 
our planting again. 

The same procedure was followed by corn. 
Corn was much easier to plant. We could hold 
many more seed in our hand and they were 
dropped at greater intervals. It didn’t make too 
much difference if we did drop a few extras, 
because they could be thinned out if there were 
too many during our first weeding session. 

The planting of the garden was a very 
important function also. It was an operation 
that my father took a great deal of pride in. 
We laid it out in rows with a shovel plow 
that was generally pulled by a single horse, 
and Father chose the one that he thought he 
could drive the straightest furrow. He held the 
plow and would lay it off in rows just about a 
foot apart. Then followed the planting of the 
vegetable garden. We had a reasonable variety 
of vegetables consisting of onions, radishes, 
lettuce, carrots, peas, string beans, parsnips, 
beets and swiss chard for our greens, and then 
a fairly large section devoted to cucumbers, 
and an acre and a half to two acres devoted 
to squash. We had plenty of work of course, 
in a regular diet of weeding and irrigating. 


The weeding was drudgery, and it was 
achieved by a variety of means: by hiring, 
by cajoling, by bribery, by coercion. Father 
seemed to always take a certain joy himself in 
weeding, and in my more recent years I have 
learned to appreciate that. I can enjoy weeding 
too; it is a pleasure to do anything that will 
contribute to a good crop, a good product. I 
also find it provides some exercise we don’t 
get any more. 

We did a lot of our weeding with an 
instrument we called the cultivator. The 
cultivator served a dual purpose; in fact, it 
served a number of purposes. It was a plow- 
type arrangement with a number of teeth of 
different sizes and shapes that were pulled 
along through the furrow. The lead tooth 
was a v-shape, and it dug into the bottom 
of the furrow. There were a number of other 
teeth, spike-like in nature, that branched out 
from that at an angle that could be varied 
in width, so you could vary the width of the 
furrow. You could also get right up close to the 
row crop, and destroy all of the weeds at the 
same time that it mulched the earth around 
the plants. Father always explained the need 
for it and that it tended to make better use of 
the irrigated moisture that had been applied. 
That was generally an evening chore, so that 
it wouldn’t interfere with the work of the 
day. One of us would ride the horse, keep 
him in the furrow and off the crop, while the 
other one held the cultivator. When it came 
to cultivating the potatoes and corn which 
covered acres, then we had to devote full days 
to it, We sometimes shared those days with 
turning the water as the irrigation turn might 
come around. 

We did grow tomatoes, cabbage, and 
cauliflower. They were planted differently 
and at a different time. To start the tomatoes, 
we built what we called the “hot bed,” which 
was a nice spot on the south side of one of the 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


25 


buildings, before the land in the field was warm 
enough to germinate the seed. We would dig 
out a place and then bring in some choice earth, 
mix it well with fertilizer, spread it in this little 
dug out place on the south side of the building, 
build up around it and then cover it with glass, 
old window panes and things of that nature, 
so that the heat would be caught and held to 
provide for a ready germination. Cabbage and 
cauliflower plants were germinated in the same 
way. Then when the land was ready, and the 
plants were mature enough for transplanting, 
we would go out and make the transplant at a 
time that corresponded with our irrigating turn 
to keep them from wilting. In a couple of days 
they had taken ahold and were on their way. 

For some reason, berries never did well 
in that valley. Our lot, home lot, was quite 
low in the valley. In fact, our pasture land 
merged right onto our garden plot. We were 
fighting an alkali problem continually. I am 
very well satisfied that the ground was too 
cold, and the water table too high to permit 
the berries to really take hold. I have a brother 
living in the valley, and he has built up a sort 
of a Babylonian garden type of arrangement 
and has had good success with strawberries. 
Mother persevered through many years in 
trying to get strawberries to grow, but we were 
able to mature but relatively few. The same was 
true of other berries. I have the feeling that if 
someone were to go higher up, it would be 
above the available irrigation water supply, but 
the soil would be of a sandier nature, free of 
the mineral, and better drained, and that they 
could raise good berries. 

The same is true of fruit. In the case of the 
fruit, however, the growing season length is 
very insecure. The valley is subject to late and 
early frosts that are detrimental to successful 
fruit culture. 

The hay harvest was our major agricultural 
operation, and it constituted a big part of the 


economy of the valley. There was a lot of the 
original meadow land that prevailed through 
the valley when it was first discovered that has 
been preserved right to this day. The same 
grass that grew then, is growing now. We 
speak of that as the wild, or “meadow hay.” 
In the land that has been reclaimed, which is 
generally at a higher level from the valley floor 
and which has been subjected to irrigation, 
the crop is largely alfalfa, and a very choice 
product it is. 

Our methods at that time were, except for 
the very most elemental machines, entirely 
dependent on man and animal muscle. We 
used horse and manpower in all phases of the 
work. When the hay was ready to harvest it 
was the mowing machine that laid it down. 
After the hay dried reasonably, we would 
rake it into windrows. This again was done 
by horse and horse-drawn machine. From 
then on, we piled it or cocked it by hand in 
piles at convenient distances for throwing 
onto a wagon. Then of course, when it was 
sufficiently cured—and we always felt that 
the place for it to cure was in the cock—we 
would bring out the hayrack. 

There were generally three men; one 
on each side of the wagon, and one on the 
wagon. The one on the wagon was called the 
loader, the two on the ground were called 
the pitchers. We would load the wagon with 
between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds of the loose 
hay. We would haul that in turn into the stack 
yard. Then again it was a matter of pitching 
the hay of f the wagon with the two pitchers 
and the one they termed the stacker. 

I don’t know why, but we were in that 
valley quite late in utilizing the derrick and 
forks for unloading. For years, we looked with 
a certain degree of dread to the haying season 
because of the hard manual labor. 

We had three crops of alfalfa. The first 
crop came on just at the end of the planting 



26 


Elbert B. Edwards 


season of the row crops. We stacked most of 
it in the field, although when we went home 
at the end of the day we always hauled a load 
home to put in the barn for winter use for the 
animals that we kept at home—the cows and 
the horses that we kept around the place and 
used during the winter. 

As soon as the first crop of the alfalfa 
was in, we went to work on the meadow hay 
and followed pretty much the same process 
there. There, one operation was simplified. 
We would cock it, put the hay into the cocks, 
with the rake, rather than doing it by hand. 
That was one advantage, although loading 
the hay and hauling it in was a disadvantage 
over the alfalfa because it was of a slippery 
nature and more difficult to get a full load on 
the fork. When it came to unloading, it was 
our preference to pitch the hay on the wagon 
and pitch it off, rather than to load or to stack. 
Someone was always careless, and we were 
getting a fork full of hay on our shoulders and 
leaves going down our neck or something of 
that sort. 

One part of the wild hay harvest that 
was particularly disagreeable was when we 
encountered a heavy crop of fox tail. The fox 
tail was a stage in the growth of the grass that 
produced a grain-like seed that was equipped 
by nature apparently to go places. It was 
subject to being caught by the wind, and then 
it could dig itself in wherever it went. It could 
work its way through your clothes, so people 
generally pitched in the heat of the summer 
in a heavy denim jacket in order to fight shy 
of that fox tail. There was always a little fox 
tail around and some fields had a lot of fox 
tail, unless the hay was cut just before the fox 
tail began to form. 

The meadow hay was used largely for the 
feeding of the cattle, whereas the alfalfa was 
the choicer feed and reserved for horses and 
for marketing. We fed the wild hay and some 


alfalfa to our dairy cattle, but the range stock 
that we were feeding was limited almost 
exclusively to the meadow hay, or alfalfa that 
had been ruined in the process of harvesting 
by unseasonal rains. 

We didn’t always get all of our meadow 
hay harvested before the second cutting 
of alfalfa was ready and so we generally 
harvested meadow hay between both 
cuttings. 

During the fall of the year, we, of course, 
had the harvest for all of the annual products 
before the frost came. The roasting-ear time 
of the year was always an interesting time. 
We always enjoyed it because of the product. 
It was a convenient time, because if we were 
caught in the field with an irrigating turn and 
we got hungry while we were still separated 
from the supper table by a couple of miles, 
we could resort to the corn patch. We would 
build a little fire, roast it over the coals and 
it would satisfy our hunger just as effectively 
as a meal of anything else. 

That was also an important time of year 
for Mother, because she liked to dry corn 
for choice meals during the wintertime. She 
would take the corn at the “milk” stage and 
shave the kernels of f the cob. She would spend 
as much as two days just doing nothing but 
cutting the kernels off the cob. She would 
take it and lay it out in the sun. She earlier 
used sheets, freshly laundered, and she would 
then spread the kernels out and let the sun 
dehydrate them. Then she would store it 
in flour sacks, or glass jars. In preparing it 
during the wintertime, it was always a must 
for our Thanksgiving dinner or our Christmas 
dinner, for special company and that sort 
of thing. She would, of course, soak it to 
reestablish the water content and then simmer 
it for quite some time and then top it off with 
lots of fresh cream and butter and properly 
seasoned. (Even after I came to Las Vegas, I 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


27 


used to get orders from former residents of 
Panaca for dried corn.) 

Before I left home, Mother had us build 
a special frame, a cube frame, with shelves 
of window screen on which she would place 
the corn. It dried much more effectively and 
she didn’t have to fight the birds off while it 
was drying. 

The main crop of corn, of course, could 
wait, as we wanted it to thoroughly mature. 
When it was matured, the cold weather didn’t 
bother it any, so Father generally did the 
harvesting of that when the rest of us were in 
school. We got in on the husking; I don’t know 
why we didn’t think of a husking bee. We read 
about them in the school books, but we never 
organized. We would husk it. Then, Father 
had picked up a corn sheller somewhere 
during his travels. Anyway we had the only 
one, I think, in the valley. We used to get a lot 
of help on that in exchange for the use of it. 

We also always had a kraut barrel, a fifty 
gallon barrel that was reserved for the special 
purpose of making our winter supply of kraut. 
So as the cabbages matured, we got out the 
kraut cutter and a big stamper, a club-shaped 
instrument made of wood. We would shave off 
a goodly supply with that, sprinkle in the salt 
and then pound it down. That product then 
fermented on its own. In the wintertime, there 
was nothing more delicious than going out as 
Mother was getting out a supply of that kraut, 
getting a saucer full of that frozen cabbage. 

Cucumbers for pickles were a very 
important harvest. We would choose the proper 
sized cucumbers, fill two or three barrels with 
them, and over them we would pour a heavy 
salt brine. They would be preserved in this 
brine until Mother had occasion to use them. 
She would get them out several gallons at a 
time, soak them in fresh water to soak out the 
salt and then mix up one of her choice pickle 
mixes; let them stand in that until they were 


ready for table use. She always kept them in 
large, open crocks, and we always used to know 
where to go to find a good sweet pickle. Her 
dill pickles, she preserved in glass jars. 

Onions were an important harvest also. 
We would harvest them for winter use as dry 
onions. For the early spring use, we would just 
plow a furrow and take immature onions and 
place them in the furrow and cover them over. 
The frost didn’t seem to bother them any. The 
first few days in the spring when the ground 
began to thaw, the onions began to sprout and 
we had a large, sweet, fresh onion before we 
had anything else from the garden. 

The beans, green or string, were canned 
in considerable quantity. Of the squash that I 
mentioned, we had the two varieties; one was 
a choice hubbard squash that was set aside for 
table use. We used a lot of them for just baking 
and then, of course, for our squash or pumpkin 
pies. The large number of squash, however, 
were served primarily as a stock food. We 
fed large quantities of them to the pigs. They 
were not a heavy food, but a filling food, and 
when accompanied by corn, the pigs did very 
well. They were always used in preparing the 
animals for the meat harvest. 

For our potatoes for household use, we 
had a storage cellar. Those that we raised for 
market, we put in pits. We would just dig a 
pit convenient to the house and unload them 
right from the wagon into the pit, cover them 
over with a heavy layer of straw and pile a layer 
of earth on top of that. We would generally 
leave a little breather hole in the form of a 
stovepipe sticking down in that would provide 
for ventilation. Then as the market justified, 
we would uncover and sack them. We used to 
send a lot of potatoes to Las Vegas to the market 
when Las Vegas wasn’t using nearly so much 
as they are now. 

There was one other harvest that I always 
looked forward to. In fact, I still do. There 



28 


Elbert B. Edwards 


is seldom a year that I don’t go looking for 
pinenuts. The fact that Father liked pinenuts, 
too, didn’t make it any more disagreeable. Of 
course, we didn’t have pinenuts convenient 
every year, but whenever there were pinenuts, 
we would always schedule one or two wood 
hauling trips along with the pinenut season. 
We would go out generally the evening before, 
as early in the afternoon as we could get away, 
drive along under the pine trees with a garden 
rake and just rake them off the trees into the 
bed of the wagon. 

One way to prepare them was let them 
dry out thoroughly and then beat them out 
of the cone. But that was unsatisfactory; we 
didn’t like to wait. So we would get an old 
pan, fill it up, and put them in the oven, roast 
them right in the cone, dig them out, and 
they were ready roasted. In our evening camp 
before going to bed, of course, we would 
throw a lot of pinecones into the ashes or 
the coals and let them roast there until they 
were thoroughly cooked and the pine pitch 
was burned off of the cone. Then we would 
have a very enjoyable evening, eating freshly 
roasted pinenuts right out of the cone. 

Pinenuts, of course, were one of the most 
significant parts of the Indian economy. 
Folks at home, Mother particularly, living 
there in Clover Valley as she did and 
getting acquainted with many of the Indians 
because of their friendship with her father, 
was always visited by a lot of them as they 
came through Panaca going for the pinenut 
harvest. In fact, they also came there to stock 
up with vegetables and with hay. We had a 
large corral, a large corral yard, and there 
was always an abundance of everything that 
they needed. 

I remember them coming there on one 
occasion particularly. There had been one 
family in Clover Valley, one family of Indians 
who had named all of their children after my 


grandfather’s family. There was Jasper, Albert, 
Lamond, James; and then after the girls, a 
Minnie (named after my mother whose name 
was Minerva; everyone knew her as Minnie or 
Aunt Minnie), a Melinda, and a Roxa. I was in 
the kitchen with my mother (I used to spend a 
lot of my spare time in the kitchen; I learned a 
lot from my mother in the kitchen). The door 
very quietly opened and here came a squaw. 
She came around behind the door, didn’t say 
a word, just squatted down behind the door. 
Behind her came another one, and behind 
her came still another one. The three of them 
stayed around behind the door, squatted 
down there on the floor next to the wall, 
didn’t say a word. Mother looked at them, 
“Oh, hello, it has been a long time since you 
have been to see me. But I know you; you’re 
Minnie; you were named after me.” The squaw 
giggled. “And you’re Roxa, you’re named after 
my sister, and you’re named Melinda, you’re 
named after my other sister.” Each one giggled 
in turn. And Mother talked on, let them know 
that she appreciated the visit, that they were 
welcome. They understood some of it, I guess, 
although apparently if they knew the English 
(they undoubtedly knew some), they didn’t 
use it. Then after a visit, Mother said, “You’re 
going out after pinenuts,” and they nodded 
or giggled assent. Mother said, “Well, the 
corn is out here, the potatoes are out here, 
there is a big batch of squash out here, and 
you find what you want. Just help yourself, 
take all you want. You tell your men that the 
hay is in the barn; take what they want.” So 
pretty soon without a word they got up and 
went out. They went and helped themselves 
to what they needed for making a temporary 
camp. They camped, generally, out on the edge 
of town somewhere. The next two or three 
days, the squaws were busy collecting what 
they would need during the time they would 
spend in the hills. 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


29 


It was on one such occasion, they were 
visiting to stock up the supplies preparing 
for going up into the hills for several weeks 
to get their year’s supply of nuts. This one 
squaw was making a last visit to our garden. 
Her man was sitting out in front waiting in 
his wagon while she collected the harvest. 
She was coming out with the last sack of 
produce over her shoulder. She had come 
up to the wagon and was turning around 
preparatory to loading that sack into the bed 
of the wagon and my oldest brother, a few 
years older then I, but still a child, called out 
to her, “Mow don’t forget to bring us some 
pinenuts.” That woman just, literally froze in 
her tracks. That sack stopped where it was 
and seem to stand there almost immobile for 
two minutes. Then, apparently she collected 
herself and she turned around and lowered 
that sack to the ground, very deliberately, 
slowly, just like she was thinking all the time. 
She straightened up, she put her hands on her 
hips and she looked at him I don’t know how 
he lived through it. It had been a laser beam, 
it would have burned through diamonds. She 
stood there again, she seemed to be fighting 
a frustration but all of a sudden after what 
seemed minutes, she literally exploded, 
saying, “My name Minnie.” 

She seemed to be relieved. Anyway, she 
very deliberately turned around, picked up 
the sack of vegetables, put them in the wagon 
bed, climbed in and took her traditional seat 
there on the bed of the wagon. Her husband 
drove off, apparently oblivious to any insult 
or anything of that nature going on. She, 
however, had been insulted in the extreme. 
It had been assumed by someone that she 
might forget to pay just debt, and for anyone, 
even a child, to assume that was more than 
she could take. She rode off with her head in 
the air, a stately, reserved queenly bearing. 
They always came back after the nut harvest, 


and they always paid a just reimbursement in 
nuts for everything that they got. 

The Indians sometimes would bring their 
raw nuts with them and make camp up above 
town. The different groups, of course, came 
and went at different times. They would cook 
their nuts at that time. I had never seen how 
they did it. Of course, it was just a matter of 
roasting nuts and subjecting them to heat. 

In our house at the present time, we put 
a pan over the electric heater in the living 
room. We munch on the pinenuts while they 
are at all stages of the process, or we bring 
them home from the hills in the cone stage 
and cook them in the oven. Even today there 
is nothing like that aroma in the house; it is 
just refreshing all the way through. We never 
tired of pinenuts; in fact, we never had time 
to eat all that we wanted. We had to take 
them to school, and it you have pinenuts in 
your pocket, you are not going to keep your 
hands out of your pocket or your nuts out of 
your mouth, teacher’s attitude to the contrary 
notwithstanding. Lots of times we had to 
spend time after school in compensation for 
the time that we spent eating pinenuts. 

The same was true with parched corn. 
That, of course, is another Indian favorite, 
but it was another white man favorite, too, of 
the ' teen years of the twentieth century. We 
would get the matured corn and soak it until 
it was softened and then dry it out and roast 
it in an open skillet, keeping it stirred until it 
was thoroughly heated through and parched, 
but stirred to keep from burning. With a little 
salt and a little sprinkle of butter to keep the 
salt on, it was hard to beat for between class or 
study period snack. It beat the modern coffee 
break all hollow! 

Another important harvest was our 
meat supply. A big part of that was pork. We 
would generally hang up anywhere from five 
to seven hogs for our own use during the 



30 


Elbert B. Edwards 


fall of the year. We always had a few for the 
market. Our butcher yard was out under a 
big cottonwood tree and on that we had a 
block and tackle. We would raise and lower 
the animal into the scalding kettle to loosen 
the hair before scraping it off. My father had 
plenty of experience, became a very fine 
butcher. It would take several days to get the 
meat all cut up. 

Father used a variety of means of curing 
the meat. He would dry-salt a lot of it. There 
was some of it he chose to pickle in brine. 
Some, we would put in a smoke house and 
cure in that manner. 

Then, of course, later in the year (when 
the weather permitted, because there wasn’t 
an effective way of curing the meat and 
preserving it—we had to wait until the 
temperatures would go below freezing 
generally every night), we would hang up 
a beef. Of course, at other times during the 
summer time, we would often team up with 
neighbors to take a quarter or such an amount 
as they were able to use—of course, without 
refrigeration—and limit ourselves to smaller 
animals. In general, we saved our mutton 
for summer consumption because they were 
much smaller. When we had ice, although 
we had no effective way of controlling cold 
air, we would take portions of the meat and 
bury it right on top of the ice we had stored 
for summer use. 

Speaking now on health, the childhood 
diseases were held, during the earlier years 
anyway, in considerable dread. Medical 
service was almost unobtainable. It was very 
difficult, anyway, to come by. There was a 
doctor at Pioche; there was also a doctor at 
Caliente. Those doctors made periodic trips. 
They generally traveled by horse and buggy, 
and they were free to travel on circuit only 
when business was light at home. The Caliente 
doctor was generally termed a railroad 


doctor,” and generally under contract for the 
railroad workers. The doctor from Pioche 
frequently did travel by railroad; the branch 
line that ran from Caliente by way of Panaca 
to Pioche. But the schedule was anything but 
convenient, and when he came down it was 
necessary for him to stay overnight. So I say, 
prior to the coming of the automobile, they 
traveled by horse and buggy. 

In our own family, Mother lost her oldest 
boy, her second child, as a result of measles, 
and so she particularly held those childhood 
diseases in dread. Of course, we acquired 
the diseases, regardless. But just as soon as 
one of us showed any symptoms, we were 
immediately isolated away in a room and the 
others were bidden to stay away. We were 
permitted to visit through the windows. On 
one occasion, my brother had the measles, 
one form of the measles, and after he got over 
the worst of them (he was quite sick), my next 
older brother and myself were passing by; the 
door was open, but the screen door was shut 
so we had a little visit. Then we asked Mother 
if it was all right to visit through the screen 
door. Well, it wasn’t, so we had our turn with 
the measles. 

My next older brother, however, came 
down with the chickenpox and he was 
isolated. We sort of envied the treatment that 
he got that we observed through the window. 
We never got that disease at all. 

Whooping cough was probably more 
dreaded than anything else. Mother referred 
to it as the dirtiest of all the diseases. She just 
didn’t sleep when her youngsters had the 
whooping cough. There was no recourse, it 
just had to run its course. There was no way 
of effectively treating it. 

After a room was vacated, a room in which 
one of us had been isolated, Mother gave it a 
most thorough treatment. I remember she 
used to bring in a pot of sulphur, set fire 



Family Life in a Mormon Community 


31 


to the sulphur and just close the room up. 
Supposedly nothing would live under those 
conditions. Later she used formaldehyde in 
some way as a fumigant. 

When I was a sophomore in high school— 
Mother generally had boarders—one of the 
boarders come home quite ill. She developed 
quite a rash; in fact, it was more than a rash. It 
was smallpox. Mother thought she recognized 
them, but, no, it was impossible that she 
could have smallpox. Mother was pretty well 
called off until finally, she decided that she 
was going to get the doctor in. The doctor 
came down from Pioche and, sure enough, 
it was smallpox. By that time several in the 
household had been exposed. The roommate 
of this teacher had a turn at it and her fiance 
was in turn exposed. My next older brother 
got it. 

Then someone brought in a book to 
help him while the time away. Books for 
entertainment were so scarce in town, and 
I was such an avid reader when I could find 
something to read, that I just couldn’t leave 
that book alone. I learned that he was through 
with it, so I stepped into his room and got the 
book, and also got the smallpox. 

I never enjoyed anything more in my life 
after about the first five days. I was the last one, 
with the exception of this teachers fiance to 
get the disease, and rather than have it spread 
around, as soon as his symptoms began to 
show, we brought him into the house and we 
had it together. During the period that we 
were convalescing, we would slip out the back 
door and down through the fields with guns 
and be gone on a hunt. Everybody else was in 
school. We spent many enjoyable hours out 
hunting ducks, quail, rabbits, and tramping 
around through the fields enjoying the fresh 
spring air. 

Because of the lack of professional 
medical service, Mother was a good practical 


nurse. She had a number of home remedies 
that seemed to carry a lot of merit. She made 
her own cough syrups, she utilized such things 
as pine pitch for an effective drawing poultice, 
as a disinfectant and as a healing factor. It is the 
same pine pitch that comes from the pinion 
pine tree. We still use that very extensively in 
our own home for certain treatments. My wife 
was telling me just the other day that she had 
been treating a corn of many years duration on 
my mothers foot, and that she had cleared it 
up after all those years of suffering with a pine 
pitch poultice. 

Mother made the cough syrup from a 
bush that grew in the mountains; she called it 
balsam. I know the bush, but I don’t associate it 
in any way with the balsam tree. There are more 
effective syrups, now, but that was as good or 
better than anything else that they had in those 
days. She boiled it and added some sweetening 
to it, made a syrup of it. 

I had another serious health problem. 
When I was eight years old, I was on a teeter 
totter, seesaw, with my older brother. It was 
just a board through a panel board fence, and 
a loose board worked either one way or the 
other, and pretty soon I had too much leverage 
on my side. In such cases, one of us would give 
the board a jerk and sort of even things up. He 
saw what was happening and gave the board 
a jerk when I wasn’t expecting it. That threw 
me off balance and I fell over and hit the, top 
panel of the board fence on my upper lip, and 
knocked out seven teeth. One of them was 
one of the big incisors. The other incisor was 
only loosened, but it remained. Some were 
permanent teeth, others were baby teeth. Those 
that were baby teeth, of course, were replaced; 
but as they came in and there was nothing to 
guide them and so they came in every which 
direction. Mother said that had she thought a 
second time, she would have taken that one 
big incisor anyway and reinserted it. 



32 


Elbert B. Edwards 


There was no help. We had a dentist who 
made an annual circuit through the town 
once a year, and there was no other dentist 
in the county. The nearest was St. George, 
a hundred miles away, and at that time that 
was impossible. It was three days travel by 
horse and buggy, so my teeth came in a badly 
deformed mouth. It continued that way until 
I graduated from high school. Then Mother 
heard of a very fine dentist at St. George—it 
should have been an orthodontist, but they 
didn’t have such specialists in those days. 

She sent me to him and he ground away 
on the crooked teeth, and sort of straightened 
them up and by using inlays, built bridgework 
depending on the one big incisor tooth across 
my mouth. In any case, when I did go to 
school, I had a fairly presentable mouth; one 
I wasn’t nearly so conscious of. 

Well, I think that makes a pretty good 
rundown on some phases of the life. It doesn’t 
cover the woman’s work or life. I think that we 
did a lot of hard work that didn’t hurt us a bit, 
but when it came to hard work, I don’t think 
there was a man in the town that could keep 
up with the work that some of the women did. 



3 

Woman’s Work on a 
Southern Nevada Ranch 


My mother was one of those that, well, she 
had a nervous energy, she was always doing 
something of a constructive nature. The day 
that called for the greatest amount of work was 
probably her wash day Although the nature 
of the life itself was hard, our culinary water 
system was very unsatisfactory during the 
greater part of the time that I spent at home. 
We gathered it out of an irrigation ditch. 

For the irrigation system, the water was 
brought into town from a spring a mile to 
the north through a big ditch or canal. The 
whole community was built below the high 
water flow level so that laterals at different 
points were taken out and down into different 
sections of the town. They were diverted there 
to sub-laterals. Every street had a ditch on one 
side or another; some streets had ditches on 
both sides to provide for getting irrigation 
water on every lot and also to provide what we 
called a drinking stream for every household. 
While water was in short supply, it was 
recognized that life and sustenance of life 
was more important than the crop, although 
of course, the crop would be taken care of. 


Everyone was entitled to a culinary stream. 
Generally, during the summertime, it was just 
a trickle and generally limited to just the early 
hours of the day. 

Mother always wanted to get out and take 
advantage of those early hours before anything 
got out and began to rile up the water. She 
wanted her water as fresh as possible. Father 
was always occupied with something else, 
and generally had his boys out on the other 
chores when Mother got out to dip up the 
water, so that was her responsibility until I 
got big enough to do it, and then I took over. 
Even if I had to get up before she did to do it. 

We had one barrel that she always kept 
scoured clean for our drinking and her 
cooking supply. It was fifty gallons. Generally 
she had other barrels not kept so convenient 
to the house in which she drew her supply for 
other things as washing the dishes, laundry 
purposes, and so forth. 

On wash day, the first thing to do was to 
start a fire in the laundry room. Mother had 
one room separated from the main house for 
that purpose, a stove there, and a big copper 



34 


Elbert B. Edwards 


boiler that held possibly fifteen gallons. We 
would fill that and get it to boiling. At the 
same time, we would take some of her home¬ 
made soap, cut it up so that by the time the 
water was hot enough, she would have good 
working soapy suds. The night before, she 
would probably set a lot of the clothes to 
soaking, let them soak in just regular plain 
water overnight. Then, as I recall, the next 
process was to run the clothes through a hand 
wringer and put them into a very primitive 
type of washing machine. 

This washing machine—I think she had 
one just as early as I can remember—was 
wooden. It had a lid, through the lid projected 
the agitator, and through levers—one that 
worked back and forth—and through gears, 
this agitator picked up a forward-reverse 
swirling motion that brought the clothes 
to swirl, well, pretty much the same as the 
modern electrically-operated agitator type 
of washing machine. Operated by hand, it 
didn’t operate as effectively, as fast, or as long, 
as what we have today. That is where us kids 
came in, operating that washing machine. 
Later, we did acquire a motor-driven washing 
machine that was one of the earlier out. It 
operated by a little two-cycle gas engine, but 
we spent a lot more energy trying to make 
that doggone engine operate than we did in 
getting the clothes clean! 

From the washing machine she would take 
the clothes that she was particular about; that 
is, the shirts, dresses and such things, and go 
over them by hand on a washboard, make sure 
that they were thoroughly clean. Of course, 
that didn’t do all the work, and so the next 
step was a boiling process. She would put 
them into a re-filled copper boiler with lots of 
soap and boil them, and boil them, and keep 
on boiling them for almost indefinite period. 
From there, they went into a fresh water rinse 
and from there into a bluing water rinse. There 


was a special preparation in the form of bluing 
that was supposed to remove any tell-tale gray 
that might have persisted through the boiling 
process. From there, of course, they went out 
onto the line. The washing process took the 
whole day and filled up a lot of clothesline, too. 

Following washday, of course, was always 
ironing day. I experienced quite an evolution 
in methods of ironing or types of irons. 
Originally, we had the one-piece solid metal 
iron, a molded handle attached. It was very 
limited in size. It was heated on top of the 
wood range. Mother had about a half a dozen 
of those; she would iron a part of a shirt and 
then had to change irons. She was always 
looking for a misplaced ironing pad to keep 
from burning her hand. She was not always 
successful in avoiding burns. 

After a few years with that type of iron, she 
acquired a heavier iron, with a dismountable 
handle; the one handle would serve for all 
of the irons but they were still heated on the 
stove. She would take them back to the stove 
and shift the handle from one to the other. 
It was equipped with a wood handle so she 
was free of the inconvenience of the pad and 
the burns. 

Then I remember that a salesman came 
by. That is generally the way we acquired 
new ideas; somebody would come in with 
a gadget and give a demonstration and sell 
it. She got a gasoline iron. It was heated 
automatically. There was a little gas tank 
that held approximately a half a pint, maybe 
only a half a cup, of gasoline. That fed down 
into the body of the iron where there as a 
little generator. The gasoline was fed down 
through that generator and after heating the 
generator, the gas, as it came in vaporized, 
and burst into a hot flame. This heated the 
iron. Mother was sold. She tried that out a 
few times and it was just like a new world for 
her. She saved all those trips to the stove or 



Woman’s Work on a Southern Nevada Ranch 


35 


setting up her ironing board next to the hot 
stove. On a hot day there was still some relief, 
she didn’t have to heat up the house to do 
her ironing. But then she became aware that 
every time she used that, she ended up with 
a severe headache. So pretty soon she had to 
go back to the old-fashioned iron, better to 
suffer the inconvenience than the headache. 
So that continued until the electric iron came 
in. (Of course there were electric irons before 
we got the electricity.) 

The coming of electricity was an 
interesting story. There were times when we 
had electricity during the daytime only for 
washing on one day and ironing on certain 
hours the next. Then of course, electricity in 
the evening. Even that was a good thing until 
finally they had electricity from Eloover Dam 
on a constant basis. 

Aside from the washing, ironing and 
regular meal preparation, Mother took care 
of the poultry and egg production. 

During the summertime, she made the 
year’s supply of cheese. Cheese production, 
of course, called for a good supply of milk. 
So we teamed up with Uncle Will’s family. 
We would take the evening supply of milk, 
pool it with the morning supply of milk from 
both families. Then Aunt Lizzie and Mother 
would get together. It was necessary to heat 
the milk to a certain temperature, then add 
the rennet. When the milk was properly 
curdled the whey was dipped off, the curd 
was cut and seasoned, put in the mold and 
then placed in the press. The time of the day 
we always looked forward to was when we 
were permitted to get a handful of the curds. 
Then we were also on hand when Mother 
went out in the evening to trim and turn the 
cheese so that it was pressed evenly. Those 
trimmings of that fresh cheese—they tasted 
like nothing else, an entirely different taste 
than the cured cheese. During the summer, 


she and Aunt Lizzie together would set up 
twenty or twenty-five cheeses that weighed 
from twelve to fifteen pounds each. I have 
never tasted any cheese since I left home that 
compared with that which was made at home. 

I mentioned that she made her own soap. 
She would save animal fats for such time as 
was needed to gather enough to make a supply 
of soap. The surplus bacon grease, the rinds, 
the suet from the beef, surplus fat that was 
rendered from the pork were all used. We had 
a part of a steel drum set up as a soap kettle, 
although she also used a huge brass kettle. 
She put the ingredients into the container and 
used commercial lye. She then boiled the soap 
down to a proper consistency, let it harden, 
and carved it into convenient size bars. The 
stuff would dehydrate lots of times to where it 
was difficult to cut through, but it was always 
effective after you got it reduced to suds. 

During the fall of the year (we had a big 
house), she generally had some boarders in the 
form of schoolteachers and students from out 
of town. She also had big meal preparations. 
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. My older 
sister (I had three sisters) was some twelve 
years older than I was, and so she was taking 
care of her own family about the time I was 
of help. The other two sisters were younger 
and so Mother took me into the kitchen, she 
said, before Dad could find out what I could 
do out in the field. 

I have never regretted the time I spent 
there and the lessons that I learned from her 
in many ways. There were lessons in cooking 
that I can still teach my wife, little lessons 
that she won’t learn for fear that I will forget. 
I enjoy getting in a kitchen. I find that it is 
relaxing. During the time the youngsters 
were growing up and in high school, my wife 
decided that she wanted to do some work. She 
got a job and lots of times she wouldn’t get 
home until six o’clock. (This was when the kids 



36 


Elbert B. Edwards 


were big enough to pretty well take care of 
themselves.) During those days when the day 
was so long, she never got home at six o clock 
in her life that there wasn’t a meal ready on the 
table waiting for her. The kids probably knew 
the difference, but they never mentioned any 
difference between her meals and mine. The 
most gratifying part of it, I think, for me, was 
that after being in school until five o’clock 
and possibly an evening session coming up, I 
would be pretty well tied up with tensions and 
nervousness. I could get in the kitchen and I 
could relax. I used everything in the kitchen. 
You never knew what might come out in 
seasoning, but we never threw any of it away; 
there was never any left to throw away. When 
they are home, the kids are always anxious to 
get out in the hills somewhere and get a camp 
meal—cooked in dutch ovens over the coals 
of a campfire. 

Another one of Mother’s activities always 
intrigued me. We always looked forward 
to that time of the year for the making of 
mincemeat. Again she had to wait until the 
cold part of the year arrived. She also waited 
for the meat supply with which to make it. 
She got her fruits together, the suet and the 
spices. I always got to chop up the fruit for 
her. She filled a huge wooden bowl with her 
mincemeat. After it had cured for awhile, she 
would put it away in glass jars. Of course, she 
always added a little of the proper spirits she 
would accumulate during the year—a bottle of 
choice brandy that she would add for proper 
seasoning. She always said that the alcohol 
evaporated off, so she wasn’t violating any 
church precept. There was only one person 
that ever made mincemeat that tasted like 
hers, and she was that person. 

After spending a full day taking care of the 
affairs of the house, she never sat down in the 
evening to be idle. She liked to read, but she 
didn’t read as much as she would have liked 


to because there was always something else 
to be done. She had a touch for needlework. 
She crocheted, she tatted, she knitted, she 
made doilies, she made couch covers, she 
made afghans, she made sweaters, she knitted 
socks. She was always working on something 
of that nature. She also had a carpet loom. All 
of the worn-out clothing went into a rag-bag. 
If she wasn’t doing anything else, she might 
be sewing carpet rags. 

She had an elderly neighbor; in fact, this 
neighbor was a polygamous wife on one of the 
important pioneer families of the southern 
Utah area, but she lived with a daughter there 
in Panaca. She had been assigned during her 
later years to Panaca as a midwife. In fact, she 
was the one that ushered me into the world. 
Anyway, she used to like to visit with Mother. 
She would come down and spend days at a 
time visiting, and while Mother was going 
about other chores she would be working at 
cutting and sewing carpet rags, and rolling 
them into a ball. 

When Mother got her supply of carpet rags 
all ready, she would get the warp and thread 
the loom, and then go to work in weaving her 
carpet. She wove the carpet in strips, probably 
about three feet in width. There again I 
came into a certain responsibility. I filled the 
shuttle-cock with the carpet rags. She had a 
little stand on which was mounted a couple of 
pulleys. You would turn the crank on one of 
them, which was attached by a belt to another 
one, that operated a wheel on the other side, 
that pulled the carpet-rag off the ball, and 
directed it down into a little compartment 
that held the shuttle-cock. 

In filling the shuttle-cock, we would 
operate the machine with one hand, turning 
the crank, and pounding the rag into the 
shuttle with the little pounding instrument 
designed for that purpose. She then would 
take the shuttle-cock and put into the shuttle, 



Woman’s Work on a Southern Nevada Ranch 


37 


passing it back and forth, as she tamped the 
woof or the rag into place. After that was 
done, it took quite a long period of time for 
her to weave the necessary footage to cover 
the living room floor. But after she had woven 
that amount of carpeting, she would sew the 
strips together in the proper lengths. 

Then came the problem of laying the 
carpet. For padding and also for weather 
insulation, we would bring a good supply of 
the choice meadow hay, cover the floor with 
that and then stretch the carpet over it. We 
weren’t so proficient in laying wall-to-wall 
carpeting as we are now. We had a little tack 
hammer and carpet tacks. It was easy to 
tack down two sides, but after that it was tug 
and pull and stretch for every tack that was 
driven. I always liked to get in on my part of 
the tacking on the first two parts. After that, 
we were pounding our own fingers as much 
as we were the tacks. 

Another of the activities of Mother was 
that of making bedding or quilts. She spent a 
lot of time and a lot of energy in this pursuit. 
She would, as time permitted through the 
course of the year, spend considerable time in 
selecting and cutting, sewing or piecing quilt 
blocks together. We generally had a few sheep 
on the place and we would take the wool from 
those animals, have it carded and arranged in 
batting, get lining for the quilt and set up the 
frames and go to work. 

Very frequently, she would take advantage 
of the opportunity to invite a few of the 
neighbors, relatives, friends and so on and 
have a regular quilting bee, in which case the 
work proceeded very fast. They would get it 
all off within a very short time. At other times, 
she would set it up in a spare room and work 
on it just as it was convenient to do so. In any 
case, Mother never lacked for something to 
do. She never had to look for work, and she 
was always busy. 




4 

A Rural Water System 


I have mentioned a time or two the 
problems connected with providing the 
water for irrigation. I think I mentioned the 
large ditch that was dug in order to divert the 
water from the spring to the townsite. This 
was a major undertaking for people without 
machinery. It constituted the construction 
of a ditch over virgin land. That in itself was 
a problem, because the land had never been 
subjected to a great weight under moist 
conditions, and it seems after a short while, 
the land, being wet, would compact and settle. 
So for the first few years, it was necessary to 
rebuild the ditch on many occasions, raising 
it each time to a higher level. Then in order 
to get the water through it to a townsite, it 
had to pass through a considerable elevation. 
The ditch at different points was fourteen to 
sixteen feet in depth. Where they relied on 
plows to loosen the earth, and manpower with 
shovels to remove it, you can understand that 
was a major achievement. 

That was only the first part, because as 
the ditch skirted the edge of the valley, there 
were ravines and tributary washes from the 


surrounding hills that carried flood water 
down at right angles to the ditch. The country 
was always subject to thunder storms, summer 
cloudbursts. When the water was restored to 
the ditch—by that time most of the gardens in 
town were drastically in need of water and we 
were all tired of hauling water—it was quite a 
joyous moment. 

The organization for the utilization of 
the water was interesting. I don’t know how 
early it was formed but anyway, very early 
in the history of the community; the Panaca 
Irrigation Company. Normally, the water 
would go with the land, and every block was 
allotted so much water. The water was divided, 
the flow of the spring, into what were known 
as streams. Then the streams were made 
available to the individual lots on the basis 
of shares. So private ownership of the water 
rights came on the basis of shares, with, as I 
recall, two shares equaling one stream and 
the flow of the water providing eight streams 
for each twelve hour period, making sixteen 
streams during the day, the stream being the 
unit indicating the quantity of water. 



40 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Then the individuals had their water turn. 
Early in the spring, the individual owners were 
assessed or taxed on the basis of the number of 
shares they had. A citizen was selected to serve 
as water master (although we called him the 
“water boss”). He set up a weekly schedule. As 
I recall, the weekly shares of the streams, the 
turns, came just about weekly and alternated 
night and day. Everyone had a chance at the 
daylight turn on their water. He would come 
at least two days ahead of the watering turn to 
notify us. If there was a question as to where 
we wanted the water, we could express it at 
that time, and he would divert it down the 
proper ditch. Of course, we were always there 
to take advantage of the water. 

I mentioned previously, too, that there 
was the question of the drinking stream for 
culinary use. There was frequently a little 
conflict between the claimant for the culinary 
stream and the water right for the irrigation 
purpose on the size of the stream, or any 
stream at all, because the water was so much 
in demand. If it was a question of the culinary 
stream, we would see ladies going up the ditch 
all hours of the day to find out where their 
drinking stream was. If it was a question of a 
shortage in the irrigation stream, here came 
the man in his rubber boots to find out where 
his water was. So frequently, it was a matter of 
see-sawing back and forth, cutting and filling 
in dams during the day. 

In 1917, the people of the community got 
together, floated a bond issue, and installed 
a concrete pipe, twenty-four inch capacity, 
to carry the water. From then on, we were 
free of the ditch-breaking problem and that 
was a phase of our life, or one problem, that 
disappeared. 

We did not, however, at that time get the 
water piped homes. There was insufficient 
pressure for that purpose. The ditch was 
laid out on town level. The pipe was laid out 


on the same level, and it was all, relatively 
speaking, on town level, so that there would 
be no pressure to force the water into a piped 
culinary system. It came later, however, with 
electric power available and the discovery of a 
very good source of underground water in the 
valley. A well was drilled; water was pumped 
to a high level in one of the nearby hills, and 
diverted from there through a very much 
appreciated culinary piping system. 

Closely related to the water supply, 
of course, is the problem of health. It is 
inconceivable, almost, to many people that 
we suffered as little from ill health originating 
from the water supply as we did. There was 
on record only one case of typhoid fever in 
the valley, and that was supposedly imported. 
We did have our health problems, however. 

Incidentally, I might mention that the 
water from the spring was considered almost 
perfect in fluoride content. It is one water 
supply in the state that is cited as the most 
ideal from that point of view. 



5 


My Early Life and Education 


My early childhood was, I think, an 
interesting life. There were many things to 
attract a child. There was little or nothing in 
the way of commercial toys. I remember that 
I had a set of blocks, and I remember playing 
with those blocks by the hour on the kitchen 
floor while Mother was at work. I would line 
them up in the form of a train, and build 
various types of structures with them. As I 
grew a little older, it seems that my brothers 
and myself spent a lot of time simulating farm 
and ranch life. We took small sticks and built 
corral layouts, fixing up lanes and fencing in 
pastures. For the horses, we used bottles and 
we built little harnesses from string. We had 
little drags that they pulled around (of course 
we did the dragging). We also baled hay for 
them, building a rectangular box, possibly 
three and a half to four inches square. We 
would line that with carpet warp we salvaged 
from Mothers loom, running three strands 
down in and up the sides. And, of course, we 
would tamp in the grass. When that was full 
and well-tamped, we would tie it and lift one 
side of the rectangular frame and the bale 


would come out. We would spend hours at 
a time just doing nothing but baling hay, 
hauling it up to the corral, breaking it up and 
filling the mangers we had constructed. 

For the cattle, we used bones of dead 
animals. The vertebrae of a cow, for instance, 
would make a large animal. Then we would 
find smaller vertebrae, the tail bones for 
instance, for calves and so on. Small bottles, 
of course, were colts. 

We also built corrals of different types. We 
had wire fences made out of string, and we 
would have the bull fence, which was the very 
primitive type of fence that they made where 
there was an abundance of wood. There were 
wooden posts set into the ground at different 
angles so that it was almost a barricade; it 
served that purpose. I called it a bull fence 
because even the bulls respected it. 

I was accused, as I grew up, of being 
rather mischievous, and I am still reminded of 
some of the tricks I used to play on the town 
blacksmith, who was my wife’s grandfather. 
He had a blacksmiths shop that was on the 
corner of one of the main streets in town, 



42 


Elbert B. Edwards 


and just across the street from the home of 
my cousin. That cousin was just my age; we 
spent a lot of time together. There were on the 
corner of that lot, a couple of very climbable 
trees. We spent a lot of time in those trees. 
A boy was not a boy unless he had what we 
called a flipper, generally called a slingshot, 
stowed away in his hind pocket. Well, the 
old blacksmith, whose name was Ted Gentry, 
would get a horse out in front of his shop and 
be in the process of applying a shoe, and we 
couldn’t resist the temptation to let fly with 
a rock from our flipper toward the horse or 
the blacksmith shop, just to hear the old man 
express himself. 

There were various forms of vandalism 
that I question the wisdom of at the present 
time.The Bullionville Mill stood nearby. In 
fact, it was revived a number of times down 
through the years around 1917 or 1918, and 
after that it was pretty well abandoned.lt had 
broad expanses of small window panes. Those 
window panes were most attractive. We used 
to ride by on horses and see how many of those 
we could shoot out as we rode by at a gallop. 
As I look back on it now, as well as on the 
shooting of insulators from telegraph poles, 
I don’t visualize it as anything malicious or a 
desire to be mean; it was just probably a lack 
of education. We had not learned to respect 
property. It was unguarded, so apparently 
unwanted. Well, we just didn’t analyze it from 
the point of view of the problems we created 
for others. It was a challenge, something to 
shoot at. It was always a pleasure to hear a 
tinkle of glass, and so we took advantage 
of all those opportunities. I think that had 
anyone anticipated what we were doing and 
counseled us on it, our attitude would have 
been different. 

An important day that we observed 
religiously was Nevada’s Admission Day. We 
didn’t know about Admission Day, we knew 


it as Hallowe’en. This cousin and I, after we 
got into high school, worked up, I think, one 
of the most effective Hallowe’en tricks that I 
have ever heard of. In fact, I think it is still a 
good trick. We had been studying chemistry, 
and of course had been exposed to hydrogen 
sulfide, commonly known as rotten egg gas. 
As I recall, it was ferrous sulfide with diluted 
sulphuric acid. We set up a little generating 
apparatus, and that night we went out with 
our supply of purloined ferrous sulfide and 
sulphuric acid and started doing the town. 

I think the first house we came to was 
Uncle Eh Edwards. We peeked through the 
window, and Eh was stretched out there in his 
favorite chair, enjoying an after-supper nap. 
We pushed a little hose through the keyhole 
and turned on the generator. We let it flow 
through there for a few minutes. We saw him 
begin to stir, then we pulled it out and went 
across the street to a family that operated the 
one hotel accommodation in the town. They 
had a number of paying guests. We poured a 
good liberal supply through that keyhole and 
somebody yelled and we took it out and went 
on up the street. We made two or three other 
visits up there, and as we came by, we heard 
someone say, “Shut the door, we are going to 
freeze to death.” Somebody answered, “Well, 
we’re going to die anyway.” 

At that time there was a road crew 
working nearby. It was the first bit of highway 
construction through the valley. They had 
their camp set up about two miles out of town. 
At night they would come in, one of the local 
merchants would open up a store and build a 
fire in the pot-bellied stove, and they would 
sit around there. Of course, it was good for 
trade. They would buy material for snacks 
and that sort of thing, sit around and munch 
and gossip. Well, we went in there. Nobody 
paid any attention to us, so we looked around 
behind some of the piles of crates of supplies 



My Early Life and Education 


43 


that they hadn’t shelved yet. The evening 
was about shot and so was our supply, so we 
took what we had left, and put it together, set 
it down behind the crates and walked out. 
We went across the street to see what would 
happen. It didn’t take long. That whole group 
of highway employees came out of there in a 
stream and went off down the street moaning 
and grumbling. We heard quite a lot of talk 
about that, but no one ever knew the answer; 
except the high school chemistry teacher 
might have had his suspicions. 

Every summer, my mother was duty 
bound to make a tour of her relatives for a 
visit and she always took some of the younger 
children with her. As a rule, she would begin 
with the youngest; the youngest one had to 
go with her. Then she would take them in 
alternates in order to eliminate the friction 
spots in the family as much as possible. 
Accordingly, I got to go along as one of the 
alternates quite frequently. We would go to 
Clover Valley where she would spend some 
time with her aging father, and so I got pretty 
well acquainted with cousins, and a different 
type of ranch life, and gained a knowledge of 
my grandfather. 

Then she had two sisters and one brother 
who had married into the Terry family. Well, 
the Terry family is known today as one of the 
prominent pioneering families of the area. 
Anyway, they lived over in Utah, so we made 
occasional pilgrimages over there. 

We traveled in different ways. On one 
occasion, we took the train at Panaca and 
rode to Caliente, transferred there onto the 
main line of the Union Pacific, which went 
through Clover Valley, and rode on up to 
Clover Valley. They made a special stop for the 
train. We got off there and then by previous 
communication, it was arranged that Aunt 
Roxie and Uncle Tom Terry, after we had a 
visit with Grandfather Woods—would meet 


us there—pick us up and take us over to the 
Terry ranch, across the line in Utah. There 
we lived an entirely different type of ranch 
life, in a very different environment. From 
there, on twelve miles to Enterprise, Utah, 
again by team and wagon. It seems that they 
always had gentler horses around Clover 
Valley and the Terry ranch than we had at 
home. I really learned my horseback riding 
away from home. 

The visits were always very attractive to 
all of us youngsters. We had cousins our own 
age, generally at all places, and it meant a lot 
to us in those earlier years. 

On our return home, again, it seems 
now as I look back on it, things must have 
been pretty well scheduled, although I was 
too young to realize it. As we left the Terry 
ranch, we were driven by two older cousins 
in a buggy. That buggy was filled with people 
going to celebrate the twenty-fourth of July of 
Panaca, and so we arrived home just in time 
for the celebration. We would settle down 
then for the summer’s work. 

On one occasion, Father had his wheat 
ground into flour at the Enterprise Mill. 
Normally he purchased his flour supply in the 
fall of the year through the Panaca Coop. They 
would take orders from all the residents of the 
town for a year’s supply at a time, and then 
bring in one or two, or whatever was required 
in the way of carloads, by way of the railroad. 
When that arrived, we were given notice, 
Father would hitch up the wagon, drive to the 
railroad station and take his portion of the 
flour, bring it home and store it away; enough 
to last us through the year. 

This year he had had a pretty good harvest 
of grain, so he had it ground into flour at 
Enterprise. He took it over; it was during the 
Christmas holidays and it was a cold winter. 
We went through the hills, making it to Terry’ 
s ranch one day, and then to Enterprise the 



44 


Elbert B. Edwards 


next and got it ground, loaded it up, and 
made it back by way of Modena and over the 
Modena summit. I don’t believe I have ever 
suffered more from the cold than I did on that 
trip. It was very cold and inconvenient, but I 
was more than enthused, regardless. We had 
the chance to visit with the relatives again, 
swap stories with the cousins, try out each 
other on different tricks, everything that kids 
generally do. 

The first school in Panaca was held in 
a small building made out of cedar posts 
stuck upright in the ground, thatched over 
with willows and earth. The next step in 
building construction for school buildings 
was the construction of the meeting house 
of the church. The original unit was made 
of adobes. Then that was used for the school 
building. Later on, as the population grew, 
it didn’t accommodate everyone, so there 
was another adobe building taken over to 
supplement the use of the meeting house. I 
know that my oldest brother attended school 
in those buildings, as did my older sister. In 
1909, the school district constructed a two- 
story, four-room concrete block building. It 
was in that building that I attended school. 
I started in the fall after I was five years old 
in June. I still remember how I happened to 
enter school at that age. 

School had just started in September, 
and my two older brothers came home one 
day and said, “Aha, Grant’s going to school, 
Grant’s going to school.” Grant Edwards was 
that cousin that was just my age. We were 
practically inseparable. So I can still hear my 
old Daddy saying, “If Grant can go to school, 
my boy can go to school.” So the next day I 
took off for school. I think that was tragic in 
my life, because I was not ready for school; 
I was not mature enough. But in a small 
town, a teacher had to be pretty careful about 
detaining students. I went on from the first 


grade to the second grade at the end of the 
year, although I was not ready for it. 

I can still remember the teacher. I know 
what she was doing now; I didn’t know at 
the time. She was teaching phonics. She had 
the alphabet and combinations. I can still 
visualize them in the corner of that room, 
hanging from the ceiling to the floor. To 
me they were marks, they might have been 
bugs, they didn’t mean anything. She would 
stand up there with a pointer and she would 
point to one and the class would respond 
with proper sound. I didn’t associate; I can 
remember that I did not associate a sound 
with the symbols. I learned to read, I don’t 
know how, unless it was just by rote, probably 
the way they learn today. I still suffer, though, 
from proper interpretation of my alphabetical 
combinations. 

I learned my times-tables, but I didn’t 
know my arithmetic. I remember going to 
the teacher when I was in the second grade. 
She had put some simple addition problems 
on the blackboard and told us to work them 
out. Some of the kids asked her individually 
if they could just write out the answers. She 
gave them permission. I went up and asked if 
I could just write out the answers. I remember 
very well what the answer was, “No, you don’t 
know what you are doing anyway.” And she 
was right. But I remember that I was able to 
memorize the times-tables. I got so I could 
do division all right, but when it came to 
fractions I floundered badly. 

I got by in history and geography, but in 
grammar I was lost. That stayed right with me 
through the grades. I suffered from it even in 
high school. So I’ve been a firm believer in 
maturity in youngsters when they first enter 
school ever since. 

I have had a lot of pretty strong arguments 
on that point. I have argued it before the state 
legislature in fact. On that occasion, they 



My Early Life and Education 


45 


advocating lowering the admission age of 
kindergarten students and was opposed by 
the Reno PTA. They won. I still have to be 
convinced. 

I entered school, too, right after the 
transition from the use of slates to scratch 
paper. My oldest brother used slates and slate 
pencils. I still have his slate. Not very long 
ago I picked up a supply of slate pencils in 
my wife’s grandmother’s old house that we 
were wrecking. 

The school building had four school 
rooms, each schoolroom accommodated 
two grades, with one teacher for every two 
grades. In my grammar school years I had 
four different teachers; a new teacher every 
two years. The teachers of my third and fourth 
grades and fifth and sixth grades were local, 
and I got along very well with them, because 
I knew if I didn’t, I stood to get a good, severe 
punishment. 

On alternate years, I was particularly 
good, because I had a brother going through 
the grades just one year ahead of me. I think 
probably he was a little better by virtue of 
my presence, too. If anything happened that 
either of us got into trouble, the folks heard 
about it at home and then they straightened 
us out; the teacher was always right. It made 
life much better for the teacher, and made for 
much better education. 

I think it was while I was in the fifth and 
sixth grades that we were engaged in World 
War I. That was something that was brought 
home to us, very personally, in the things we 
studied, in the things that we did. Always 
there were the drives to raise war funds, the 
sale of bonds, and so on. We had at that time, 
the Liberty Bonds. Mother was appointed 
as a Liberty Bond driver, that is to carry on 
the drive. The schools made a special point 
to promote thrift among the youngsters. We 
had War Thrift Stamps. A Thrift Stamp cost 


twenty-five cents and when you would get 
twenty Thrift Stamps, you turned those in 
on a War Savings Stamp. You could get so 
many War Savings Stamps and you could 
turn them in on a Liberty Bond. We just 
put all of our nickels and dimes in on Thrift 
Stamps, and we built it up to where we had 
quite a book, during the two-year period, of 
War Savings Stamps. I never got a bond, but 
to us anyway, it was quite an achievement 
to get just a War Savings Stamp. We took a 
great deal of pride in what we had. We, in 
our study of history, of course, placed a great 
deal of stress on patriotism. In our music, we 
went into the singing of patriotic songs. We 
sang the patriotic songs of the Allies, “God 
Save the King” and “Marseillase” and we had 
long stirring war songs. I remember one we 
particularly liked, “While We’re Canning the 
Kaiser.” We, of course, also sang “It’s a Long 
Way to Tipperary,” “Johnny Get Your Gun,” 
etc. 

I pay myself a terrific compliment when I 
say we sang. There was one of the local men 
that was teaching at that time was quite a 
trumpet player. We used to get the upper four 
grades together and he would come in with 
his trumpet and accompany us in our songs. 
We thought that was great. 

I would like to tell of the time I was late 
for school. One thing that, when we were 
growing up, our parents were particularly 
zealous about, was promptness. And when 
we had a responsibility, it was doubly our 
responsibility to be there to assume it. If there 
was a possibility that we might be late for 
something, it wasn’t that we might be relieved 
of any responsibility, but we assumed more; 
and we would get up earlier in order to meet 
them all. 

It was one of my responsibilities on this 
particular occasion to drive the cows to 
pasture in the field about two miles north 



46 


Elbert B. Edwards 


of town. Along with the regular milk stock, 
I was to pick up another cow that had just 
recently delivered a calf. I rode down into the 
pasture to drive her up. She was separated a 
little from the calf and I started toward the 
calf. She resented it and charged the horse. 
She had sharp horns. She missed my foot by 
just a matter of couple of inches, but gored 
the shoulder of the horse. The horse made 
about two jumps before I rolled off. Of course, 
I didn’t stop to see if she was coming, I just 
got up and left. In any case, Dad came around 
and checked over the shoulder of the horse, 
“Oh, she isn’t hurt. Go on and take them to 
the pasture.” 

I started out, but the farther I got, the 
lamer the horse got, and when I was about a 
mile from home, she just couldn’t navigate. I 
turned the cows loose, got off the horse and 
was going to lead her back. It was a very slow, 
laborious process. She was severely injured 
and the muscles were getting pretty sore. I 
worked her along to town, and I knew I was 
going to be late because of the ringing of 
the school bells. I heard the eight-thirty bell 
when I was still a long way from home, and 
several blocks from home when I heard the 
ten-minute bell, and just barely getting home 
when I heard the nine o’clock bell. I got her 
back and told Father that the cows were on 
the loose. He went to deliver the cows to the 
pasture. Anyway, I was late for school that 
morning, and I think that was the only time 
that I was ever late during my elementary 
school years. 

I missed a half a day once when I was in 
high school; I got my feet frozen. It was during 
the Christmas holidays and Mother and 
Father had decided to go visit the relatives. 
Mother had a sister in Enterprise. We had a 
Model T Ford at the time. My oldest brother 
was anxious for a little vacation, so he drove 
them over. While they were there, there was 


a heavy snow storm. There were still only 
country roads, no road maintenance or 
anything of that nature, so on the way back, 
going up over the Modena summit they were 
having a little car trouble, timing trouble or 
something. In any case, although the road 
had been broken open, the snow was too well 
packed to give them any traction at all, and 
particularly when their power was off, and so 
they were stalled. They were stalled out there 
over night. 

My brother walked in a matter of about 
twelve miles, got in about three o’clock in the 
morning, got me out of bed to go back after 
the folks. I got a neighbor with his car and 
we went up. We got them, with a great deal 
of effort, pulled them up over the summit. 

In any case, I hadn’t taken any precautions 
at all in preparing for the expedition. I had 
on light socks and relatively light shoes. My 
feet got terrifically cold, and furthermore, 
I was driving or steering the Ford with no 
insulation at all under my feet. Finally, after 
we got up over the summit and down a ways, 
I put on the brakes and pulled everybody to 
a halt. I said I wanted to thaw out my feet. 
They were more than numb by that time, 
and I have had quite a bit of trouble with the 
bottoms of my feet in cold weather. I figure I 
got a little frostbite. Anyway, I missed a half 
a day of school because it was twelve-thirty 
before we got home. 

We had to improvise for our school 
recreation. There was originally no provision 
at all for any play equipment or anything 
of that nature. I remember one thing that 
was always popular. Flash floods had cut a 
channel diagonally down through the center 
of the public square. It was several feet deep. 
The townspeople had dug in a huge piece 
of railroad 'timber, sixteen inches wide by 
about twelve inches thick. In fact, they had 
two of those, I think thirty-two feet long, that 



My Early Life and Education 


47 


stretched across that flood channel we used as 
our slide. We would slide down the bank, cut 
a little groove there in the earth, and then just 
line up and go down that, sliding down the 
flood channel and circling around for another 
slide. There was just a continual string of those 
kids that were going down that slide in the 
flood channel. Then, of course, when that one 
wore too deep, we would start all over again 
in another place. 

Another favorite pasttime was digging 
tunnels in the side of that channel. That was 
very unpopular with the city fathers because 
it eroded away the sides of the channel, and 
eroded away the soil for that matter. But they 
weren’t always around to prevent us from 
doing it, and we would come from home 
with large spoons to dig tunnels. We would 
dig tunnels and then laterals. One of the boys 
got particularly ambitious and brought a huge 
mixing spoon to school and dug way back 
until he was entirely in under. The teacher 
came by supervising, and found him in there; 
they put a stop to it. Fortunately so; if there 
had been a cave-in it would have been just 
too bad. 

We played “pomp-pomp pullaway,” a tag 
game, and “steal sticks,” was another favorite. 
Marbles came in for their season. 

It was largely in marbles that a boy 
measured his wealth. We had quite a variety 
of marbles. There was the one we called the 
dough-babe which was the basic unit of 
exchange, made of molded clay. It figured as 
the unit one. We had a commie which was 
really nothing more than a dough-babe but 
with a glazed surface, and was worth two 
dough-babes. We had another one which 
came out a little speckled. I don’t recall the 
name of that, but it was worth three. A glassie 
was worth four. That was generally just a clear 
glass. The smokie, or what is known today as 
the agate, was worth ten of the dough-babes. 


We generally used those for taws or shooter 
marbles. The tops in value was the flint. The 
flint was so scarce that you just couldn’t get 
them. If someone did trade them, we figured 
them of a value of twenty to twenty-five 
dough-babes. To find someone who would 
sacrifice that many units of value for one 
measure was almost as difficult to find as 
someone who would part with his flint. 

The older boys during the spring of the 
year, of course, turned to baseball. Again, 
they had largely to improvise. I can remember 
when a baseball as such was non-existent. We 
had home made balls. I was very fortunate 
because I had the supply of string to draw 
on to make a baseball. I made a ball; it was a 
string ball. They served the purpose. 

The high school building—it was a county 
high school— was built there in Panaca, in 
1912, They were a little more fortunate in 
being provided with recreational equipment. 
They early entered into the game of basketball, 
and they had one basketball to play with. 

I remember once when Las Vegas came up 
to play an interscholastic game, we brought 
out our ball and they brought out their ball 
to see which ball to play with. Our ball was so 
badly worn that it was lopsided, and Las Vegas 
had one that was far from being a new ball, but 
anyway it was in better shape, so we started on 
that. When the ball was completely worn out 
and had actually burst the seams and could 
not be used anymore, the high school turned 
it over to the elementary school. We would 
pool our resources—a nickel apiece from all 
of those who had it—take the ball down to an 
old Danish cobbler that repaired shoes and 
have him sew it up. It was still far from round, 
but it was something to play with. On one or 
two occasions, we acquired a volleyball in the 
same way. We would play volleyball over the 
wire fence around the school grounds. Of all 
the games, I think volleyball was my choice. 



48 


Elbert B. Edwards 


We played a lot of “leap frog.” A group 
of eight or nine boys would get in a row and 
just play “leap frog” all over town. “Spats 
and spurs” was something that we seemed 
to get some enjoyment out of. It has been 
many years since I have even thought of it. 
I have never seen it played anywhere else. 
For “spats and spurs” we would draw lots to 
see who would be down. The man that was 
down would bend over in the position for 
“leap frog” with his hands on his knees, and 
hold that position while the others jumped 
over him with various forms of approach. The 
first one was, to go over with hands—with 
both hands placed on the back. The next 
one would be hand; you would go over with 
one hand being placed on the back. The next 
one would go over with knucks; with both 
knucks digging into the back of the man on 
the ground. The next one was knuck; they 
would go over with one knuck. Then they 
would go over with a spat (a slap); give the 
man that was down a slap as he went over. 
The next one to go over would go over with 
kicks. If at any time one who was going over 
did anything wrong, if he failed to negotiate 
it in any of those passings, why, he had to get 
down and the one that had been down got to 
go to the head of the line. There was hands, 
hand, knucks, knuck, slap, kick, and then the 
next one was hats. You would take your hat 
or cap and as you went, you would place that 
on the back of the one who was down. As 
those hats piled up, it became increasingly 
difficult to get over. The one that knocked 
off a hat or failed to have his hat stay was the 
one that was down. If everyone successfully 
poked their hats on top, then they went over 
and picked up the hats. If they all succeeded 
in picking up the hats, then they put the hat 
in a reverse position on their forehead and 
as they went over they would see who could 
project it the farthest. Finally, if everyone got 


over projecting their hat, then they chose the 
one with the least distance for the one to be 
down, and they started all over again. 

Everything had its season. We had our 
season for “spats and spurs.” We would start it 
there when we first got there in the morning, 
we would play it at that time, we would 
remember who was down when it came to 
recess, and we would pick up where we left off. 

School took up at nine o clock in the 
morning, ran for three hours until twelve, 
took up again at one o’clock until four. The 
lower grades had shorter school days. The 
school bell mounted in the belfry at the top 
of the building would ring at eight-thirty. 
That was the first bell. It would ring again 
at ten minutes to nine, the second bell. At 
the third bell, we were to get in line and 
pledge allegiance to the flag and march in. 
The entrance was well regimented. We had 
a recess, fifteen minutes in length, from ten- 
thirty to ten forty-five. Again we would form 
to march in. The teachers generally gave us 
a marching step by means of a little tapped 
bell, although later one of the boys was gifted 
on the drum, and he could really make those 
drums roll. Then, we would line up and march 
according to the drum. When I was just a fifth 
or sixth grader I always wanted to beat that 
drum. One time the regular drummer was 
sick and couldn’t be there, and so I got the 
teacher to let me beat the drum. I remember 
one of the teachers came by, looked at me, and 
said, “I thought that sounded a little different.” 
Now I know what she meant. It sounded a lot 
different, I think! 

We always vied for an opportunity to 
ring the bell, too. The teacher finally broke 
it down to where we were assigned turns. 
The bell would ring for dismissal at recess 
and also to call us in. Our drinking supply 
was an irrigation ditch across the street. Let 
that recess bell ring, there was a run to that 



My Early Life and Education 


49 


irrigation ditch, and you would see that ditch 
just lined with heads dipped down to drink. 
As I say, we were a healthy lot. 

At that time, we were visited regularly by 
the State Superintendent and the Deputy State 
Superintendent of Public Instruction. When 
that official came around, it was something 
new and something strange to have any 
visitor in the classroom. Everyone was on 
their best behavior, and everyone wanted to 
make a good impression. When I was in the 
seventh and eighth grade, Maude Frazier, later 
superintendent of Las Vegas schools, was the 
deputy. In fact, Miss Frazier got acquainted 
with me at that time. 

At that time the State Department of 
Public Instruction sent out a state examination 
in certain subjects in the seventh grade and 
for all subjects in the eighth grade. We had 
to pass in those subjects or come close to 
it in order to qualify for our eighth grade 
diploma. So that was one thing that really 
kept us working, preparing for those prepared 
examinations. The teacher had a supply of the 
exams that had been used in previous years, 
and we would literally wear those out as we 
would go through and study those questions. 
We learned the names of the bones in the 
body for physiology, we studied geography 
intensively. Grammar, arithmetic, American 
history, everything. Then we devoted the last 
week of school to those examinations. We 
were a tense lot. 

I remember that the teacher was very 
much concerned about me because of my 
close mark in grammar, and I was pretty much 
worried, too. She said she would give me a 
recommendation. After the papers were sent 
in (I think they were sent in on the last day 
of school; we had no graduation exercises or 
anything of that nature), in a matter of a few 
days, here came my diploma signed by Miss 
Frazier. 


Going on into high school, I was still 
suffering from immaturity. I was in my class 
with students, with the exception of my 
cousin, who were all older than I was—some 
of them as much as two and one half years. 
I feel that that made a difference, not only 
academically but also socially; in fact, I know 
it made a difference socially. My cousin was 
more mature than I, and a more capable 
student, although ultimately, he did not retain 
the academic interests that I did. At any rate, 
he seemed to go along much better than I did; 
he was more mature socially. I didn’t get along 
with the group. I would have gotten along 
with the next age group coming along behind. 

In high school, I enrolled in a course in 
manual arts—or we called it shop—three 
years, as a freshman, as a sophomore, and 
as a junior. Our shop building hadn’t been 
planned in the original construction, so they 
had rented the one vacant building in town 
that could be used, and that was the one that 
had been the old town saloon. It was just a 
shell of a building, but they put a big wood 
stove to heat it, a few benches, and some saws, 
planes, chisels, mallets, hammers, and so on, 
and they taught the rudiments of wood work. 
We had one teacher, though, who was an avid 
baseball fan. He taught math, shop, and did 
what coaching we had. 

Because of his interest in baseball, he 
wanted to make the perfect baseball bat. 
He got a supply of ash in four-foot lengths 
and about three by three inches square and 
put on a lathe and turned out baseball bats. 
This, of course, was in the days before we 
had electricity so we had no motor power 
for a lathe, we had no water power or 
gasoline power, but we had manpower. We 
had boy-foot power. I think there were five 
places for five men to operate on a kind of 
a bicycle-treadle operated affair. That power 
was transferred to the lathe, so he had five of 



50 


Elbert B. Edwards 


us pretty well occupied while he sat up there 
at the chisel and turned out baseball bats. I 
attribute to that a good portion of my healthy 
leg development. 

We turned out pieces of furniture of 
different types. My brother did some very 
fine work, turned out a library table and 
what we called a Morris chair. He also built 
the upholstery for it. The last year that I took 
shop we had more properly what was called 
farm shop. We did a lot of harness repair, in 
fact, a lot of leather work. He taught us how 
to half-sole shoes, how to make a harness, 
bridles, and on into some rawhide work under 
his tutelage. 

Father gave me an old cowhide. I took 
that, and under the teachers direction I dug 
a hole about a foot deep just about the size of 
the hide, laid the hide down in there flesh side 
down, and poured ashes over the hairy side, 
and then piled moist earth on that, and left 
it there for a few days. When we dug that up, 
the hair was sufficiently loosened that it just 
scraped off. We cleaned it up and trimmed it 
out an cut it to the proper size. I did quite a lot 
of braiding; I made a hackamore nose piece 
and several sets of bridle reins, braiding and 
plaiting in four strands and also in eight. 

Of course, we got through algebra and 
geometry. There, I again felt my inadequacies, 
in maturity definitely, but part of it may 
have been lack of a serious attitude in the 
classroom. Anyway, I got behind, and decided 
that I was going to drop. In fact, I had my 
older brother in that class with me, and after 
we had been in the class just a matter of ten 
days or so, he recommended to my father 
that I drop. He sensed that it was going to 
definitely be over my head. By virtue of the 
fact that the recommendation came from him, 
I wasn’t about to drop. I stayed on for several 
weeks until I made up my mind that I was in 
the wrong place definitely, and so I wanted to 


drop. By that time he had changed his mind, 
but I dropped anyway. The next year I went 
back and I was much more satisfied with the 
work that I did. I was one year older, I was a 
junior, I was more interested really in learning 
the hard way. 

I took Spanish the first year I was in 
high school. Then I skipped two years and 
picked up Spanish again. My Spanish teacher 
that time was Harold Brinley. Harold had 
graduated from the University of Utah. He 
had had one or two years of experience and 
came to Panaca. After I had gone on to the 
University, he was brought to Las Vegas as a 
science teacher. 

That was one thing about Maude Frazier. 
She, as Deputy Superintendent of the Las 
Vegas schools, she was able to choose the 
best of all the teachers, and she built up a very 
effective staff in Las Vegas. She knew how to 
select her teachers through her acquaintance 
with them and her knowledge of their 
capabilities. 

Anyway, Mr. Brinley taught and I took 
chemistry and Spanish from him, and when 
I came to Las Vegas to teach, I worked with 
him. I learned to have a great deal of respect 
for the man, for his ability and his sincerity, 
his dedication to education. Eventually, 
he became principal of the Las Vegas high 
school and then superintendent. He left the 
system for a matter of a few years to go into 
private business but came back again. Since 
the reorganization or the consolidation under 
the county unit plan, he has been with the 
personnel department of the Clark County 
School District. 

He brought to Lincoln County a new 
method in teaching Spanish, known as the 
“direct method.” Prior to that time, of course, 
everything had been done on a translation 
basis. Under the direct method, the goal was 
to teach the students to think in terms of the 



My Early Life and Education 


51 


language they were learning, rather than to 
think English and then Spanish, or Spanish 
and then English. 

When I entered high school, it was a 
county high school and supposedly attracted 
students from all over the county, but it had 
a total enrollment of forty-five. The school 
board did the hiring. There was a high rate 
of turnover in the school administrators, the 
principals. Frequently, the principal would 
arrive just a day or two before school started 
to work with a faculty of which he had 
absolutely no knowledge. The school board 
had employed them without any professional 
guidance at all. If they had a faculty that was 
prepared to teach a full curriculum, they 
were very fortunate. As a general rule, we 
didn’t know what the curriculum might be 
until the day school opened. We would have 
a faculty meeting to find our what the faculty 
was prepared to teach, and what they could 
teach, and what they could prevailed upon 
to teach. We generally had teachers that were 
prepared to teach English and history and 
math and science. So out of it all, they made 
a fair curriculum. 

The population of the high school drew 
quite heavily on Pahranagat Valley. It seemed 
that the people from Pioche preferred, those 
that were able, to send their students out of 
the state for their high school training. We, 
of course, got the people from Eagle Valley, 
Rose Valley, the various ranches around, and 
a few from Caliente. But during the earlier 
years, apparently there must have been a large 
percentage that just did not go on beyond the 
eighth grade. 

To the younger class growing up, the 
association with the people from Pahranagat 
Valley, Alamo, and Hiko was interesting. 
They were a class of people very comparable 
to the people in Panaca and with common 
interests. They sent some of their students 


over to board at Panaca homes. Then, as the 
numbers became increased, it was common for 
them to choose a valley mother.” They would 
come over and rent a house and she would be 
the mother for all, or most of the youngsters 
anyway, from that particular area. There were 
generally two or three such “mothers” from 
Pahranagat Valley taking care and looking 
after the interests of the students of that area. 
There were a number of romances that grew 
up between the Meadow Valley people and the 
Pahranagat Valley people. My older brother 
fell for one of the Pahranagat Valley girls. And 
that leads up to another little festering point in 
my own life. 

He liked to spend his time with her, much 
preferred to spend his time with her than home 
doing chores. When he didn’t show up to do the 
chores, I had to fill in for him. I got to the point 
where I was doing a lot of yelling about it. On 
one occasion, he came home from school, took 
his .22 rifle and went hunting down through 
the fields. When he came back, he had shot 
himself right through the hand, right through 
the fleshy part of the hand, missing any bone. 
By that time we had acquired a Model T Ford 
and the roads were passable. We had to go to 
Caliente to get medical attention. Of course, 
as long as he was going, his girlfriend must 
go along with him. That sowed the seed in my 
mind that I have never gotten rid of that he 
must have done that on purpose. I think he 
probably convinced me in the last few years 
that it was accidental, but at least I argued with 
myself for a long time, because it freed him 
from milking for the duration of the healing. 
In fact, it turned out that it freed him from the 
milking for all time. 

That romance was, however, discontinued 
after they graduated from high school. There 
were a number of boys and girls from the 
respective valleys that got together and 
developed very happy unions. 



52 


Elbert B. Edwards 


By the time I graduated from high 
school, the enrollment at the school had 
grown considerable because they were 
running a car or possibly two cars to Pioche, 
and likewise there were a number of cars 
transporting students from Caliente. Even 
so, our graduating class had dwindled 
considerably There were nine of us in the 
class, seven boys, two girls. The two girls were 
both from Pahranagat Valley, the seven boys 
from Panaca. I think you can probably guess 
who the valedictorian and salutatorian were, 
the two girls occupied the honored spots. 

Following graduation from high school, I 
spent the summer working for my father. At the 
end of the summer, I had no other prospects, 
either for employment or education, and my 
parents felt that it would be nice for me to 
go back to school. I was not at all averse to 
it. In fact, I felt I had acquired an interest by 
that time in learning, and I felt that I could 
make up for some lost time by returning. So 
I went back and took some additional work 
in math; I enrolled in a class in economics 
(it was a new class being offered); I enrolled 
in physics, which had been offered prior to 
that time only spasmodically. I also took 
advantage of the principal’s specialty in a 
class in French and also in public speaking. I 
thoroughly enjoyed the year. I was accorded 
a number of privileges that did not generally 
go to the undergraduate. On occasion, I was 
an assistant to a teacher, more of a flunky, 
probably, than anything else. 

I enjoyed the principal’s classes in public 
speaking; he was very well qualified in 
that. He taught debate, dramatics, general 
speech, and extemporaneous speaking. 
He annually prepared the team for the 
interschool competition in those fields. 
Every year, he sent the team to Reno to the 
University competition, and I don’t believe 


there was ever a year he didn’t take the major 
part of the awards. 

Anyway, I had the opportunity that year 
of (as I have already mentioned) opening 
up Cathedral Gorge, and on one occasion, 
President Walter E. Clark, at that time 
President of the University, came down. On 
this occasion the principal asked me to go 
with them and give them the tour of the gorge. 

So I became acquainted with Dr. Clark. He 
was a very friendly, extrovert type, genuinely 
interested in the youth. In fact, he had come to 
visit the Lincoln County High School, looking 
for prospective students. So things worked out 
whereby when a scholarship opened up at the 
University, he contacted my principal and my 
principal asked me to put in for it. I was really 
a little bit hesitant—I was very hesitant—at 
doing so, because, again, small town life has 
many restrictions and limitations and one of 
those limitations was a misunderstanding, a 
general lack of understanding, you might say, 
of how things are done in the outside world. 

Somehow or another, I got the impression 
that the scholarship was not the most highly 
favored thing in the world. I still can’t 
understand it, except that a man was supposed 
to stand on his own two feet. Anyway, he 
convinced or taught me differently. When 
the application was due I was out of town; 
in fact I was out of town having some dental 
work done over a period of about two weeks. 
By the time I got back and got the application 
in, it was late. I don’t know whether it would 
have done any good anyway; I rather expect 
that it wouldn’t have, because I was up 
against some very good competition. It was 
the best scholarship that was being offered. 
The University of Nevada provided $500 a 
year, which at that time was really more than 
enough than was required to see a person 
through a full year. 



My Early Life and Education 


53 


Anyway, Dr. Clark was still interested, 
and I got a telegram from him one day The 
opening of the school year was approaching, 
and he said that he could arrange whereby I 
could get a loan of $200 a year without interest. 
He had contacted the State Federation of 
Women’s Clubs for the arrangement. That 
in itself would not have been sufficient; I 
still couldn’t have gone to school. But that 
year I had a brother-in-law who was taking 
a teaching position in Sparks, and he was 
interested in seeing me go on. So he offered 
me a very attractive home at a very reasonable 
rate, if I wanted to take advantage of it. So I 
made up my mind that I would. 

They were driving through, from Panaca 
to Sparks and transferring their home to that 
community. He had been offered the position 
there on the recommendation of Maude 
Frazier to George Dilworth, superintendent, 
that he, Quincy Keele, would be able to handle 
the discipline problems of his junior high 
school. He was given the position on the basis 
of that recommendation as a disciplinarian. 

The university year had started before we 
left and I rode with them. We drove through; 
it took us three days to drive from Panaca to 
Sparks. I got enrolled in the University, and 
for one full semester I was sorry. 

I was the greenest of little country boys in 
the city, in a world that was entirely different. 
I was lost. I was a country hick, and I looked 
and acted the part. One thing about it, I spent 
my time in the library. I had three weeks of 
work to make up. I had enrolled in five hours 
of Latin, three hours of American history 
under Jennie Wier, in chemistry, of course the 
traditional physical education, and ROTC. I 
don’t recall offhand just what else I was taking, 
but a good full course. 

I think it was in American history where 
I almost floundered, that is, I thought I was 


floundering. Dr. Wier was very thorough. 
She prepared a detailed syllabus and she had 
almost an unlimited number of references. Of 
course, the class had received its instructions 
the three weeks preceding the time I got there. 
I went in and was told to just follow this and 
when I came to that list of references my 
assumption was that I was supposed to read 
them all. So I just about not only drowned, 
but smothered in that library reading those 
references. I had never been taught to take 
notes; I knew that I had to take notes, so they 
were quite copious. 

I found myself wishing repeatedly that 
I could just wake up and find that it was a 
bad dream, find myself back home. But I 
floundered through and got my beatings and 
finally learned I was expected to read only 
one of the references listed on the syllabus. 
The second semester was not nearly so bad. 

One class that I took was philosophy, 
deductive logic, under Professor R. C. 
Thompson. He was the father of Judge Bruce 
Thompson and Judge Gordon Thompson. 
A wonderful man and a wonderful teacher, 
a very fine person, interested in young 
people. I got to talking with him one day 
and it came out where I was from. Well, he 
had been to Panaca. He had been assigned 
there to pass on the accrediting for Lincoln 
County High School when they first applied 
for that recognition. He had always wanted 
to go back. When he said he had been 
there, I remembered, because at that time 
the principal was renting a house on our 
lot, and he had brought Dean Thompson 
down to dinner. He had previously made 
arrangements for my sister to cook the meal 
or it may have been his wife that had made 
the arrangements for her to do the cooking. 
Anyway, that was when I was a small boy; I 
just vaguely remembered him. 



54 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Anyway, he would be interested in going 
back and, well, Dean Thompson made 
graduation speeches for the high school 
groups. My Dad was the president of the 
school board and the principal was this man 
I was in very good with. So it was just a matter 
of writing a letter, and I had a ride home after 
school was out. It was an enjoyable ride, and 
we made it back in two days. We made it to 
Ely the first day and on down to Panaca the 
next day. Of course, both Dean Thompson 
and Mrs. Thompson went along. They stayed 
at our home for several days. We got very well 
acquainted. 

When I got home Dad had a job lined 
up for me. The County Commissioners had 
authorized the drilling of a well in Cathedral 
Gorge and he had set it up for me to assist 
Ralph Olinghouse on the project. Ralph, 
since that time, has served for many years 
as Lincoln County Assessor. At that time, 
he had a drilling rig and we went to work. 
Ralph paid me the unheard of wage of $1.50 
an hour. While we were broken down more 
than we were working, I didn’t lose any time, 
because Dad needed the help on the farm. 
Nevertheless, I got in enough hours so that I 
went back to school in a pretty good financial 
state. 

Along with the loan that I was getting 
from the womens organization, I got by very 
well, living still with my sister and brother- 
in-law. Anyway, I was really enthusiastic 
about getting back to school that year. My 
attitude changed, I had acquired a little self- 
confidence, I had made friends. 

When I first went to the university, my 
mother had cautioned me not engage in any 
of the rough sports, particularly football. All 
that we knew about football was what we had 
heard, and she knew that it was rough and that 
it was dangerous. So I wasn’t supposed to play 
football. The second year, I got by without 


Mother holding me to any commitments to 
any activities. So I went out for football. That 
football looked really great but, of course, I 
went in cold. I was competing with people 
who had been playing and knocking around 
with the ball all their lives. But I really enjoyed 
it as I went into it. They had one man that 
was imported as a guard. He was a heavy-set 
young fellow, and he had a reputation from 
high school as being quite a football man. 
They pitted me against him. After I had had 
a few instructions on charging and what not, 
I guess I made it a little embarrassing for him, 
because I charged him with all that I had and 
took him out, and consistently so. 

Coach Buck Shaw really tore that guy to 
pieces, letting a little country hick come up 
and push him around that way. It didn’t do 
me too much good because, that is, I didn’t 
influence him, because I had never been on 
a football field before. 

Playing around, the first thing that 
happened to me was I failed to dodge 
somebody’s elbow and they hit me in the 
mouth, jarring the tooth that held my 
bridgework. I figure that that was the cause 
of eventually losing that bridgework. 

The next thing that happened, though, 
was that I ran into somebody with my thumb 
pointing the wrong way. I took it to the doctor 
and he sensed that it was broken. He put 
a splint on it without, however, effectively 
resetting it. But before he put the splint on it, 
I was out on that football field again, running 
to catch a pass. I came down—it was off the 
field—with my toe in the hole that had been 
used by a track man as a starter the previous 
season. That was before they had track starting 
blocks. Just about that time, somebody hit me 
and there went my ankle. 

I hopped off the field and turned in my 
uniform. I quit football because I was going 
around with my thumb in splints, my ankle in 



My Early Life and Education 


55 


a cast, of course on crutches, for several weeks. 
Anyway, that slowed up my football career in 
a hurry My ankle was stiff even several years 
beyond my college career. I was able to devote 
more time to my studies in any case, and went 
on and finished that year. 

I enjoyed my ROTC work because it gave 
me an opportunity to go out for the rifle team. 
I never got over my youthful enthusiasm 
for shooting. The first year I was high place 
man on the team, so when I came back the 
second year the ROTC captain said, “Well, 
Edwards, as long as you were high place 
man last year, you be captain this year.” So I 
was captain every year. We carried on postal 
matches with teams all over the country. We 
didn’t win too many, but we had a lot of fun 
shooting and I got in pretty good with the 
military department, with the sergeant in 
charge of materiel. When we wanted to go 
hunting, it was easy to get a rifle and also to 
get ammunition. In fact, the sergeant himself 
liked to go out, and we frequently went out 
together. We used to go out on Washoe Lake 
with those high powered rifles. The geese were 
generally way out in the middle of the lake, but 
we had a lot of fun shooting at them anyway. 

When I went to the University, I think 
probably one of the big shocks I had was 
seeing my first trolley car. I had seen trolley 
cars in the movies and they were always silent. 
I had visualized them as absolutely silent. 
Then, to see that little Toonerville affair that 
ran between Sparks and Reno clanking along 
and making a genuine racket, I was very much 
disappointed in trolley cars. 

As I lived in Sparks and went to school in 
Reno, I became very well acquainted with the 
trolley or street car. I would generally catch it 
early enough in the morning to make a seven 
forty-five class. As I recall, tickets were ten 
cents a ride, although we got special rates in 
buying a book. It was just about three-quarters 


of the time that we were able to catch a ride, 
particularly on the way back. We would stand 
on the corner and wait for the trolley car to 
come along. Of course, there was considerable 
automobile traffic between Reno and Sparks 
at that time as well as today, and when we 
were recognized as students, we were readily 
picked up. The trolley ran for only two years. 
After I went up it was discontinued sometime 
in 1927,1 think, and replaced by busses. We 
used to have a lot of fun on the trolley cars 
even if it wasn’t a lot of fun riding them. 

I was impressed at the University, as I 
think most people are, by the caliber of men 
that associated themselves with the University. 
I mentioned that I enrolled in my first year in 
a five-hour course in Latin taught by Dr. J. E. 
Church. Of course, Dr. Church had made for 
himself an international reputation as a snow 
scientist or meteorologist. I knew him during 
the time he was coming to be recognized in 
this field. Of course, I knew him in an entirely 
different capacity, that of a classics professor. 

As a classics professor, as an instructor, 
a teacher of youth, I think I have never 
met anyone his peer. He was a thoroughly 
humble man. He had an understanding and 
appreciation for humanity, and at the same 
time he was a man who held to standards. 
He was one who encouraged and inspired 
students to do everything they could by the 
example that he set for them. I think that 
the physical fortitude that he showed in his 
battling the wilds of Mt. Rose and the terrific 
storms that he faced on that mountain was 
expressed in other ways in other aspects of his 
character; he was just as strong a character in 
everything that he undertook. As a teacher, as 
I say, I think he had no peer. I think I can say 
that he had a great influence on my life as an 
example, as an ideal. 

It was during my second year there, 
however, that he was loaned to the University 



56 


Elbert B. Edwards 


of Michigan, his old alma mater, to further 
their studies of meteorology and the influence 
that the ice cap of Greenland had on weather 
conditions in the northern United States. 
In order to get to Greenland he had to go 
to Denmark to get a boat to Greenland as 
that island was a province of Denmark. They 
were the only ones who had occasion to go 
to Greenland, so in order to get a ship to 
Greenland, they went to Denmark and then 
back. 

He was generally conscientious in class 
to discuss nothing but subject matter. On 
occasions when we did break down, he told us 
some very interesting stories of his experiences 
journeying out onto the ice cap with a lone 
Eskimo companion, the winter that he spent 
there, his journey out and so on. Since that 
time he went on to great international fame 
because of the contribution that he made in 
the field of snow survey. 

Another professor that I found to be 
inspiring was Professor Silas Feemster. Old 
Professor Feemster had a lot of very peculiar 
eccentricities. Because of those eccentricities, 
he was a joke among a lot of the people 
on campus. Unfortunately, I think the 
engineering students were required to take 
a course in United States Constitution and it 
generally devolved on Professor Feemster to 
give it. Because it was a required course on 
their part, it was largely resented, and because 
of the Professor’s eccentricities I don’t believe 
the engineering students could appreciate, 
really, what he had to offer. Anyway, they 
tended to make a farce of the course. 

One thing that I did notice was that 
graduate students really flocked to Professor 
Feemster for their work in his field, the field 
of political science or ancient history. I had a 
number of courses with him and it was very 
seldom that he would ever mention in class 
a reading assignment that he had given us. 


Again I felt that that was what a University was 
for. He inclined to give us in class that which 
he felt was not available to us on our own, 
and some of the things that he brought out, I 
have just never found a source for, myself. He 
was a profound student. He was a profound 
thinker, an original thinker, and he gave a lot 
to those who were willing to take it. 

The fact that Professor Feemster would 
come to school without a collar or tie, that his 
socks were mismatched, or possibly his shoes 
untied, didn’t bother him and it didn’t bother 
me. He was quite typical of absent-minded 
teachers whose minds are above mundane 
things of life. 

University life was entirely different from 
anything I had expected or experienced 
before. There were the barbaric initiations and 
the rites tending to occupy a place in student 
life. There was one that went rather rough 
with me. It was the first football game of the 
season and the first football game that I had 
ever experienced. The sophomores were out 
to degrade the freshmen as much as possible. 
Between halves they came out on the field, 
leading a donkey with the numerals of the 
freshman class, '29, painted on the animal 
in green. 

That was just the challenge that the 
freshmen were waiting for, and they made 
a rush to carry the animal off the field. The 
sophomores were there to bring him onto 
the field. The donkey was in the middle. I 
got in next to the animal and got hold of his 
ear. Others had ahold of various other parts 
on both sides. He was being pushed from 
both sides, and the donkey undoubtedly 
became irritated. For some reason, I let go 
of the donkey’s ear and he reached down 
and took hold of the calf of my leg with his 
teeth. In spite of my efforts to get away, the 
donkey had other ideas. He pulled my feet 
from under me, let me down under that 



My Early Life and Education 


57 


milling horde. All the time I was fighting to 
get on my feet and to get away from him. It 
looked rather dark, I had just about given 
up hope. When I saw a human leg above 
me, I grabbed it and got some attention. The 
owner helped me to my feet. The others saw 
my predicament. The freshmen took ahold of 
me, the sophomores took ahold of the donkey. 
Instead of being a pushing match, it became a 
tug of war. Fortunately the calf of my leg was 
tight enough and large enough that his jaws 
were just about locked over it and beyond the 
point of strong leverage, beyond the biting 
stage, anyway. They finally pulled us apart. Of 
course, as my leg was pulled from between the 
donkey’s teeth and the muscle badly bruised. 
In any case, I was free of marching in ROTC 
for several days until the swelling went out 
of that leg. 

During my second year, I have already 
mentioned the rough treatment I got on 
the football field. While I was still tied up 
in splints on the hand and leg, I went home 
one day and found a quarantine sign on my 
brother-in-law’s home. He had the diphtheria. 
I thought the world was pretty well against 
me when I had to take out and find a new 
place to live. 

Also I had just hardly got off my crutches 
until I got up one morning and had a terrific 
swelling in my upper jaw. My sister looked at 
it and tried to diagnose it, but decided I better 
go see a dentist. He x-rayed my mouth and 
told me that the big incisor on which all that 
bridgework depended was ulcerated. There 
was one treatment for that, and that was to 
have it out. I went home that night with just 
another big blank void in my mouth. Of 
course, that was also embarrassing to go back 
to school that way. The dentist had to let the 
gums heal and set again before he would go 
into further action. I was going around there 
feeling pretty sorry for myself. I did notice, 


too, after that, the improvement in my mouth, 
a great improvement to my health because I 
had just been having a cold all the time. In 
fact that year, too, I had the mumps. I got a 
partial plate replacement and that served for 
three or four more years. 

At the end of my second year, there were 
no prospects of any gainful employment 
at home, so I determined to see if I could 
find work there in the Washoe meadows 
somewhere. Of course, I figured the only 
thing I was qualified for was farm work, so I 
made a tour of the ranches in the area. About 
the only encouragement I got was to “come 
back when the crops were maturing;” they 
might be able to use me. 

I finally wound up my search down at the 
Pacific Fruit Express Company on the railroad 
yards in Sparks. I did get encouragement, but 
they said there would be nothing available 
until the fruit rush began; then I could have 
all the work I wanted. Later I found out that 
was true, literally, but no one wanted to say 
just when the rush would begin. I was led 
to believe that it would begin a lot sooner 
than it did, but anyway, I went back with the 
resolve to start out looking for something. 
That evening, a foreman came by and told me 
to report for work the next day, that they had 
an opening. I went down and they put me on. 

The Pacific Fruit Express Company is 
engaged in transporting the vegetable and 
fruit products from California to the East. 
They had the PFE cars which were generally 
known as the “reefer” heavily insulated and 
equipped on either end with large bunkers to 
hold ice to provide the cooling or refrigeration 
required for the produce. The trains hauling 
these cars, after being loaded, come over the 
Sierra Nevada mountains and down into the 
valley. By that time the original load of ice 
had pretty well melted, and it was necessary 
to re-ice at Sparks, or in that vicinity. They had 



58 


Elbert B. Edwards 


established a large ice plant and storehouse 
there at the Sparks depot for this purpose. 

The work they had for me at that time was 
in the ice production department, “pulling 
the ice,” they called it; taking the ice after it 
had been formed in the brine, removing it 
from the cans, running it into the area where 
it would be either stored or directed out onto 
the deck for immediate use. One of the two 
engaged in that work had given notice that 
he was leaving, so they took me in to train 
me in that work. 

It was one of the most confusing jobs 
that I ever tried to learn. The heavy part of it, 
weight lifting and so on, was done by electric 
cranes, but there were a number of switches 
to operate. There was the switch to direct 
the crane forward and backward, and then 
switches that would direct the immediate 
weight of the ice or water can laterally along 
the crane. We would pull the crane in; each 
crane carried six cans of ice, each can or 
cake weighing about 300 pounds. We would 
run that into compartments designed as 
receptacles for the individual cans, tip that, 
and then turn warm water on it to release 
the ice from the can. The ice would then 
pass down a chute and into the storage 
compartment. We would then straighten the 
cans up, fill them with pre-cooled water and 
take them back out to set them into the empty 
compartments in the brine. 

I know that I gave the experienced help a 
lot of enjoyment in seeing the gyrations that 
I went through in trying to pull the proper 
switch and line the cans up. They seemed 
to really enjoy it when I got a good dousing 
by dropping a can or something of the sort. 
Anyway, after a couple of weeks of that, I was 
pretty well versed and they told me that the 
man had changed his mind about leaving and 
they were going to have to lay me of f for a 
couple of days. 


They still didn’t say when the fruit rush 
was going to begin, but they felt that it was 
imminent, and so I haunted the place. Finally, 
they got tired of seeing me just hanging 
around doing nothing, so they put me to 
work, first as a blacksmith helper. 

A blacksmith played a very prominent 
part in the work around there, particularly in 
the sharpening of the tools that were used. In 
icing the cars, they used an ice pick adapted 
for either pushing the ice or pulling it. It was 
also used for chopping the blocks in half. The 
ice was fed into the bunkers in halt cakes, and 
then it was chopped into small pieces by a 
long fork-like bar that was sharpened for that 
purpose. The job paid a fairly welcome wage 
of 45~ an hour and straight time for overtime. 
Working for twenty-four hours around the 
clock I could make, if I had the chance—and 
later I did—$10.80 a day. 

One of the interesting aspects of the job 
was the type of worker that I got acquainted 
with. The employee roster was made up 
largely of Greeks, Italians, with an occasional 
Albanian or Armenian thrown in. There was 
also one Frenchman. Some of them talked a 
fair amount of English. They all could express 
themselves one way or another in English, 
but it was generally in profanity. Very few of 
them had any family life at all and they lived 
for payday. Payday meant going to Reno and 
going on a big drunk, blowing themselves 
primarily in that way. They would come back 
Monday, partially sobered, ready to go to 
work and start all over again. The bosses were, 
however, of a different type. I appreciated 
them all the more. 

One thing about it, they all seemed to 
take pretty well to me although I didn’t talk 
their language. Several of them came to me 
privately and told me that if I needed any 
money to go to school, they would be willing 
to help me. They lived for the greater part in 



My Early Life and Education 


59 


a company bunkhouse. Later when the rush 
of produce came over, everyone lived in the 
bunkhouse. 

When that rush came, it was a rush. We 
would no sooner complete icing one train 
than there would be another one pulling in 
on the other side of the icing deck, or might 
be even waiting for us. So it was just a matter 
of going up one side of that icing deck and 
down the other. When it wasn’t so rushing, 
there were always a few cars coming through 
on express trains that needed to be iced most 
any hour of the night. The bosses were very 
gracious in giving me the special opportunity 
of getting out in the middle of the night in 
order to do that. Lots of times it required 
only about ten minutes work to ice a car, yet 
I would get credit for an hour’s work. Other 
times they would expect a train in shortly; 
it would not be worth checking out for, so 
I would stay out in the deck. Even if it took 
three or four hours before the train came in, 
it was all to my advantage. 

There was another fringe benefit in 
connection with the job working for the 
Pacific Fruit Express Company. It was 
operated through Southern Pacific. Southern 
Pacific gave the workers passes on the road 
that would also entitle them to half fare on 
other lines. When Christmas rolled around, 
they had very graciously kept me on the 
payroll during the last few months. I would 
go down on Saturdays and put in a few hours 
so I could stay on the payroll. They gave me a 
pass on the Southern Pacific from Sparks to 
Ogden. I then took the Union Pacific from 
Ogden to Caliente and was able to spend the 
Christmas holidays at home at relatively little 
expense. There were two different occasions, 
the Christmas season my junior year and 
the Christmas season my senior year, I was 
able to get a ride home. That was much 
more comfortable than going by automobile, 


although just about as long. It took me just 
about thirty-six hours to make the trip one 
way. 

I made it pay off, too, in the summer at the 
end of my junior year. I had continued on with 
advanced ROTC training and that required a 
six-week period during the summer in a camp 
at the Presidio in Monterey, California. The 
government would pay our fare both ways 
at the rate of five cents a mile. They paid my 
fare from my home to Monterey at that rate, 
which gave me a break. Then I got the pass 
on the railroad from Sparks down at no cost. 
They also paid us an allowance while we were 
there, and then the return trip. So when I got 
to figuring it up, I made money on the deal 
and had a very enjoyable summer. In fact, it 
was one of the best vacations I ever had. 

While we were regimented in the Presidio 
camp so far as the work we had, we had a lot 
of time on our hands and we got out and just 
had a lot of fun. It was my first experience, 
on the coast, and we did a little fishing, a lot 
of swimming. We toured the Seventeen-Mile 
Drive, near Cannel-by-the-Sea. 

As far as the ROTC was concerned, I 
enjoyed that part of it, too, and when I got 
back at the end of the summer and walked 
down into the military department in the 
basement of old Stewart Hall, I thought that 
Colonel Ryan was going to hug me. Anyway, 
he was very cordial in his reception and 
congratulated me on being one of the three 
to receive the highest rating in camp that 
summer. 

That year, the senior year, I was elected by 
the advanced students as the president of the 
military social club, Saber and Chain. They 
had been planning for some time to make 
application for membership in the national 
honorary military association, Scabbard and 
Blade, and as president of the organization, it 
devolved on me to work up the application. I 



60 


Elbert B. Edwards 


did, and it was accepted, but I was not there 
to receive it. 

At the end of my first semester of my fourth 
year, I lacked just one unit of having enough 
credits to meet the graduation requirements. 
I enrolled, however, in another sixteen units, 
but expected to more or less just coast on 
through and really enjoy my graduating 
semester. We had hardly re-enrolled in the 
last semester. I was doing practice teaching 
at the time. Dean Traner came in. I figured 
that he was there just to supervise me, but as 
soon as class was over, he came up and said 
that he had a job for me. Well, I didn’t know 
what he had in mind, so he showed me a 
telegram from Maude Frazier, Superintendent 
of Schools in Las Vegas to him. As I recall it 
read, “Can you send us Elbert Edwards for 
junior high position?” 

I had a brother who had gone through 
school ahead of me. He graduated from high 
school, and at that time it was customary 
for the different counties to offer their own 
teacher training; they called it “normal 
school” training. They provided a teacher 
qualified presumably to train teachers. The 
county board of education would bring them 
in and make instruction room available in 
connection with the county high school 
activities. At the end of the year, the students 
were given a limited teaching certificate. 
After he (my brother) had graduated from 
high school, with nothing else to occupy his 
time, he had taken this normal school course, 
and been granted a teachers certificate. He 
had taught there in Panaca, fifth and sixth 
grades, one year. At the end of that year, he 
had left to serve on the church mission in the 
central states for two years. He had returned, 
I think in 1927, and had found a position in 
a little one teacher school down in Meadow 
Valley Wash, a few miles from Caliente on the 
Henry ranch. Miss Frazier at that time was 


Deputy Superintendent, and was his one and 
only supervisor. She became acquainted with 
his work, she liked it and so she had offered 
him a job in Las Vegas when she became 
Superintendent. He felt the need, however, 
of training over and above what he had. He 
had a family at this time, a wife and one child. 

In late 1928, Las Vegas had realized 
a dream of many years, the promised 
construction of the Boulder Dam by virtue 
of the signing of the Swing-Johnson Bill. That 
created such boom in Las Vegas, my brother 
was immediately offered a new position in 
a bank, the First State Bank. It looked to 
him more promising than teaching, so he 
had secured a release from his contract, 
provisional on them getting another teacher. 
So I had pressure from two ways, they wanted 
me, and he needed me to take that position 
for him. 

I was reticent about accepting it, but 
Dean Traner himself felt that it was a real 
opportunity. Jobs were very scarce. It was just 
before the stock market crash anyway, and the 
economic situation in the country was very 
tight. I finally accepted it. I was qualified for 
a junior high certificate, although I hadn’t 
yet received or qualified for my Bachelor’s 
degree. Anyway, I accepted the position and, 
of course, caught up with the required credits 
for graduation at summer school the next 
summer. Anyway, that took me to Las Vegas. 
I arrived to take over the new position on 
February 11,1929. 

I might say, too, before I leave the 
University entirely that during my junior 
year, second semester, my former high school 
principal, C. W. Price had brought up from 
Lincoln County another forensic team, a 
debate team and extemporaneous speaker 
or two, dramatic readings and a one act play. 
Of course, I always enjoyed them; I always 
enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with him. 



My Early Life and Education 


61 


He was a very personal and affable friend. I 
always enjoyed seeing the kids from my old 
home town, too. 

There was one that cane along that I had 
known when she was just a very little girl; 
she was the darnedest, peskiest little girl you 
ever saw. Then she was the cutest high school 
girl you ever saw, and so I had a lot of fun 
visiting with the team and particularly with 
Mary Reid. I never forgot her. When I went 
home for Christmas as a senior, I looked up 
and dated Mary Reid, and I kept on looking 
her up whenever I was around. 

She graduated from high school in 1929, 
and got a scholarship to Dixie College, so she 
went over there for a year and got acquainted 
with some of my competition. A year after 
that, she attended the University of Utah. We 
didn’t make contact too frequently until she 
came home. 

Her home was in Caliente, although 
incidentally, she had been born in Panaca. Her 
parents lived in Las Vegas at one time. Panaca 
was the childhood home of her mother, but 
she lived in Las Vegas for several years, 1912 to 
about 1917, when her parents moved up into 
Utah, trying to find a climate that was more 
healthful for Mary. They settled in Cedar City 
briefly, from there to Beaver, back to Cedar 
City, over to Pioche, and finally settled in 
Caliente. Her father was a barber. 

Anyway, at the end of her second year at 
college at the University of Utah, I happened 
to be spending the summer in Panaca, and we 
became very well acquainted. In September 
of that year, 1932, we were married. 




6 


My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


I will always remember the shock when 
I got of f the train in Las Vegas. I had left 
Reno experiencing quite a heavy winter, the 
temperatures running about five degrees 
below zero. I had taken the Southern Pacific 
railroad down through the San Joaquin Valley, 
down to Yermo, where I had transferred to 
the Union Pacific, and by Union Pacific to Las 
Vegas. I got off the train in Las Vegas and felt a 
blast of cold air that I still shudder from. The 
temperature wasn’t so low, but that wind It 
was biting. Temperatures were running in Las 
Vegas at that time about freezing, and I froze 
along with it. The wind was so penetrating. 
Las Vegas was just breaking out of its shell 
as a relatively small, sleepy desert railroad 
town. It had come into existence in 1905, at 
the time of the coming of the railroad, and 
had gradually built up to just about what the 
railroad, and the needs of the country, would 
justify. The town, I would imagine, had about 
4,000 people. 

During the years, the local political and 
economic leaders had realized the potential 
in the damming of the Colorado River. For 


many years, they had been working to that 
end with our national legislators. This had 
been realized in 1928, with the signing of the 
Swing-Johnson bill. Of course, it had been 
sponsored by the California legislators in the 
interest of the power companies of southern 
California and the city of Los Angeles, which 
felt the need for a supply of water. 

The bill was justified on a national scale, 
first from the point of view of flood control. 
The threat of the flooding Colorado River to 
the Imperial Valley and agricultural regions 
in southern California had been realized in 
1909, when the river had jumped its bank and 
had flooded the valley, forming the Salton Sea. 
In any case, Las Vegas now was beginning to 
realize what it was going to do for them, and 
they began to get ready for the rush that was 
bound to come. 

Las Vegas at the time was a small town. 
It was bounded on the east by a few houses 
on Sixth Street. The town basically did not 
extend easterly farther than Fifth Street, but 
a few had burst over down on to Sixth Street, 
and a few dwellings had been constructed 



64 


Elbert B. Edwards 


there. It extended south about as far, I think, 
as Gass Avenue, north as far as Mesquite. It 
was bounded on the west by the railroad, 
although there was a community we referred 
to as Westside on the west side of the track. 
In fact, this community was far enough away 
from the center of town and had a population 
that justified a small elementary school on 
its own. I think the first six grades were held 
there. 

Las Vegas was the site of the, well, I was 
going to say the county high school, but it 
wasn’t the county high school, although it had 
originally been a county school. In 1921, the 
settlements in the Moapa and Virgin Valleys, 
namely Overton, St. Thomas, Logandale, 
Bunkerville, and Mesquite, had asked for 
their own school district. That school district, 
known as Educational District No. 1, and 
which composed the northeastern section of 
the country, had then been organized by the 
legislature, leaving all of the rest of the county 
to constitute Educational District No. 2, with 
Las Vegas as the school center for that area. I 
might point out, too, that Educational District 
No. 1, was a unified school district; that is, 
comprising elementary, and high school 
instruction. Educational District No. 2, was 
organized for high school only. 

There were individual elementary school 
districts scattered out throughout the county. 
There was school district No. 12, for Las Vegas. 
There was a school district at Arden, another 
one at Sloan, another at Goodsprings, another 
at Indian Springs, at Nelson, or El Dorado, 
and at Searchlight. There were probably a few 
other small districts also, along the railroad. 
I cite that here to point out the relationship 
between the high school and elementary 
school districts. Educational District No. 2 
and the Las Vegas elementary school district 
were operated and administered by the same 
school board and the same superintendent. 


Getting back to Las Vegas as I found it in 
1929, Fremont Street was the only street with 
paving. As I recall, that extended from main 
Street to Fifth Street. Fremont Street between 
Fourth and Fifth was at that time also made up 
exclusively of homes. There were some very 
nice homes along there. Utilities on the whole 
were, according to present day standards, 
quite primitive. They used coal for heating, 
but because of the excessive heat during a 
good part of the year, they did most of their 
cooking with kerosene stoves. 

There was no cooling as such. People did 
have oscillating fans, but the air movement 
was about the only relief they could get unless 
they were also fortunate in having a basement. 
Basements were very few in the community 
because of the nature of the ground. 

Normally the soil of the Las Vegas area 
was very shallow. You would go down a matter 
of eighteen to forty inches, you would find a 
hard pan of gypsum. That was very difficult 
to excavate. 

Relief from the heat was also found by 
those fortunate enough in being able to 
have cabins in Charleston Mountains. Kyle 
Canyon had been pretty well developed by 
those in a position to do it. The men of the 
community would move their families up 
there for the summer and they would try and 
spend weekends there, seeking relief from the 
heat. Those who were less fortunate spent as 
much time out of doors as they could. The 
Union Pacific Park and the county courthouse 
grounds providing the only expansive lawn 
sections in that town, they were generally 
fully occupied in the late spring, summer and 
early fall months. 

Las Vegas had some very enterprising 
civic leaders. One that stands out in my 
memory was Ed Clark. Ed Clark was a very 
interesting character, an outstanding man 
in many respects. It is interesting to know 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


65 


that his father was the first sheriff of Storey 
County He was affiliated, I understand, with 
George Hearst. His father died before Ed was 
born, in San Jose, California. After he was 
born, his mother moved to Pioche; in fact, 
he was just a matter of a few months old at 
that time. He was raised in Pioche, his mother 
making her living by running a small hotel. 
Ed grew up there and early became interested 
in the cattle industry. 

He spread out from there and operated a 
freight line between Milford—which was the 
end of the railroad—into Pioche. Then as the 
railroad was extended south, he moved his 
seat of operations along with it, and when 
Senator Clark of Montana, the copper king, 
became a factor in the railroad, Ed became 
very friendly with him. In fact, too friendly, 
because when the Harriman interests came 
into conflict with Clark, Ed was on the 
wrong side. When his seat of operations was 
in Caliente and they were having so much 
trouble there, he was called into the office 
of Harriman, the Union Pacific interest, and 
told that this county was not big enough for 
both, and that he better move. Ed was good 
politician, and at that time he was a good 
friend of Senator George Nixon. He got an 
appointment as postmaster for Caliente, and 
being a federal official then, he was beyond 
touch of the railroad interests. When the line 
was extended on to Las Vegas, he went with it 
and set up his seat of operations in Las Vegas 
as the Clark Forwarding Company. 

Ed Clark was in partnership with another 
very fine man, a former resident of Panaca, E. 
E. Ronnow. The two formed a very interesting 
partnership. They were partners throughout 
their lives, although Ed was a very devout 
Catholic and E. E. Ronnow was an equally 
devout Mormon. Not only were they partners 
in business, but Ed lived in the Ronnow home 
throughout his life. 


Ed branched out into practically every 
field of economic development in Las Vegas. 
He served as county clerk, and before that he 
was instrumental in the separation of Clark 
from Lincoln County. After that, he was 
elected to the office of county clerk. He later 
became interested in banking. He also had 
interest in the Las Vegas Power Company, and 
the telephone company. He was a very friendly 
man, interested in everything political. 

There is an interesting story told about 
Ed after he had taken over as President of the 
First State Bank. The First State Bank was the 
forerunner of what is now the First National 
Bank. It was after the election of Franklin D. 
Roosevelt, during that period when banks 
were going broke, closing their doors all over 
the United States. It was one of his friends, I 
think he was a member of the state legislature, 
had a forewarning on Friday evening of the 
presidential announcement of the closing 
of all banks. Anyway, this information was 
telephoned to Ed. He, in turn, got on the 
telephone and called a personal friend in the 
Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco and 
said to him in words to this effect: “I want 
you to do something for me, and I want your 
promise that you will do it. I want you to go 
to the bank tomorrow morning and before 
you open your mail, before you do anything, 
send me every dollar of credit that we could 
possibly have in the Federal Reserve Bank. 
Will you do that?” 

Well, he got the promise and the money 
was sent. Anyway, the bank accounts were 
closed. That is, the customers couldn’t draw 
on it. Monday morning there was a lot of 
hysteria or concern in Las Vegas about the 
situation. A crowd formed in front of the 
door; they couldn’t do anything about it, but 
they wanted to see for themselves. 

Anyway, when the doors of the bank 
were opened, there was Ed Clark, his usual 



66 


Elbert B. Edwards 


suave, smiling self. Ed was a good looking 
man, too, a handsome man, and he had the 
most delightful, friendly smile. He invited 
them in. There was that money, hundreds of 
thousands of dollars piled on that counter. 
There was a man standing over in the corner 
with a shotgun, standing guard. Ed says, “Your 
money is o.k. You can have it. It is here for 
you waiting.” Real showmanship. Anyway, 
that took care of the situation, and the First 
State Bank, also. Of course, it was under 
different management then, but it was the 
same bank that weathered the panic of 1907 
very beautifully. 

There were a number of other people 
who were leaders. Harley Harmon was a very 
interesting character. Harley was just a natural 
politician. He liked people. One of the most 
friendly people you ever knew, he would talk 
with you on any subject, and he never missed 
a chance to make a speech. If two people got 
together, Harley had to make a speech. He was 
a good lawyer. He came here originally as a 
fireman on the railroad, but he was interested 
in people rather than in things, and so it didn’t 
take him long to get away from the railroad 
and get into local politics. He served for many 
years as district attorney for Clark County. 

Harley made a very imposing appearance. 
He wasn’t a big man; he was rather short and 
stocky, and he wore a pair of heavy-rimmed 
glasses, which was unusual in those days. 
There were the kind that just slipped down 
over your nose. He had it tied down with a 
ribbon to his lapel and he would take those 
glasses off when he got before the jury, and 
he would wave those glasses around and put 
them back on his nose; very dramatic. 

Dave Farnsworth was county auditor 
and recorder when I came to the area. He 
came into the country almost as early as the 
railroad. He came from the Midwest, and was 


brought in as a bank clerk for the bank that 
was being established in Caliente. Dave has 
told me that he had quite a reception. Coming 
into Caliente, there had been a washout on 
the railroad so they had to hike in the last 
ten miles. He came in, dressed pretty much 
as a dude, according to western standards. He 
wore a derby hat. He was dressed in a suit, 
which was unusual for those times and places. 
After hiking in ten miles through the mud, 
he put in an appearance at Federman’s Store. 
Federman was the president of the pro posed 
bank. Dave presented himself to Federman 
and told him he was Dave Farnsworth, the 
banker. He said that Federman just broke 
into a riotous laugh. “He pointed his finger at 
me,” he says, “You, Dave Farnsworth, you, the 
banker?” Dave of course, at that time had just 
the appearance of a kid anyway. In his muddy 
clothes and his derby hat and so on, he did 
present a rather ridiculous appearance. 

William E. Orr was district judge at the 
time. He was a native of Pioche. He had, I 
think, attended the University of Nevada 
in 1898, but had suffered an injury that had 
crippled him for life. In any case, he wasn’t 
able to go back to school. He had taken up 
the study of law, just more or less reading law 
on his own. 

Henry Fee, who at that time was county 
recorder for Fincoln County, told me that he 
encountered Bill Orr on the street one day 
and wanted to know how things were going. 
Bill wasn’t too encouraged about it. He had 
trouble finding a place to study. Henry said, 
“Well, you come up to the courthouse. I’ll 
fix you up a place to study.” Bill Orr learned 
his law there. After Bill became a practicing 
attorney, he was elected as district judge here. 
After serving several years as local district 
judge he was appointed to the United States 
Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


67 


was active as a practicing judge up until the 
time of his death, just a short time ago. He 
served there for many, many years. 

Sam Gay was the sheriff. Sam Gay was a 
man that looked the part. I guess Sam was 
6%” one way, and 6’4” the other. He was a 
big man. He had a hand that was twelve by 
twelve anyway. I know I have seen him handle 
a .44 six-shooter, and he seemed to just palm 
that .44 six-shooter with its six-inch barrel. 
He was another very fine politician. He was 
always politicking. When he was out after a 
criminal, or investigating crime, he was still 
the most friendly man in town, and it seemed 
that he never had any trouble getting elected. 

Pop Squires came in with the original 
settlers and he, of course, became editor 
of the Las Vegas Age. He was influential in 
protecting, looking out for Nevada rights, and 
the Colorado River water rights settlements 
during meetings with the representatives of 
the southern Basin states. 

Bert Henderson, another practicing 
attorney, grew into a lawyer from a school¬ 
teaching career. He had taught in Panaca; in 
fact, he taught my mother-in-law up there, 
among others. 

C. L. Horsey was another attorney. He 
had been located in Pioche during the earlier 
days, the days before there was a Las Vegas. 
He had been one who had bitterly opposed 
the separation of Clark County from Lincoln. 
After Clark County became established, and 
Las Vegas began to grow, Pioche on the other 
hand went into a period of borrasca. He 
moved to Las Vegas and his family has been 
making quite a contribution to Las Vegas 
community and politics. 

The McNamees are a very interesting 
family. Leo McNamee was born in Eureka. His 
father before him was an attorney. His brother 
Frank, until recently the Chief Justice of the 


Nevada Supreme Court, was born in Delamar 
in Lincoln County, at that time the thriving 
gold camp of Nevada. There are other leading 
citizens, but it is impossible, of course, to give 
a complete rundown. 

There was one very interesting social 
organization here in Las Vegas, formed very 
early in the history of the town. It was the 
Mesquite Club, a ladies organization, locally 
formed and locally chartered and a very fine 
service and cultural organization. It was made 
up originally of old-timers, and they have 
been replaced by newcomers, because they 
just passed out the picture. 

The Elks Lodge was prominent. The 
Eagles played an important part in the early 
organization. The Masons were a significant 
organization. And, of course, the railroad 
organizations. Rotary Club was formed in 
Las Vegas, I think, in 1923, it has been a going 
group ever since. Of course, since that time 
there have been many such groups formed. 

When we speak of the school system, 
we can’t talk about the school unless we 
think of Maude Frazier. She didn’t take over 
as Superintendent in Las Vegas until '27. 
Prior to that time, in the very beginning, she 
came to Nevada first as a teacher at Genoa. 
She transferred from there to Goldfield in 
its heyday. She was in Goldfield when there 
were five different schools in that city. She was 
conversant with the railroad travel between 
Las Vegas and Goldfield, and from Goldfield 
on to Tonopah, and from Tonopah on into the 
northern part of the state. After Goldfield—I 
don’t know the years—she taught in Sparks for 
quite some time. Then she came from Sparks to 
Las Vegas to take the deputy superintendency 
of the southern supervisional district. Prior to 
that time, I think that the position had been 
held by men, and the men thought that the 
position and all that it called for was pretty 



68 


Elbert B. Edwards 


rugged. Miss Frazier got herself a Dodge 
runabout. She equipped that with a shovel, a 
water can and an extra gas can. I don’t know 
just what she might have provided in the way 
of other emergency items, but undoubtedly 
she had emergency rations, and I imagine a 
bedroll along with it, when she took off into 
the desert. 

I read at one time, a news item from 
Washington, D. C., in which Maude Frazier 
was quoted while she was in attendance at an 
NEA meeting. She was interviewed and cited 
as a frontier school superintendent who—I 
think it gave the square mileage, around 
35,000 square miles—was expected to cover 
the Nevada wilderness. She was quoted as 
saying that she never carried a gun, because 
there was an unwritten law in Nevada that 
protected an unarmed person. She made quite 
an impression back there. 

I remember as a student, she always made 
an impression on us too. I have mentioned 
before that she was Deputy Superintendent 
while I was passing through the grades 
between the seventh and the twelfth. In 
fact, when I was taking that post-graduate 
course she gave me the first I. Q. test I ever 
had. In fact, it was the first I. Q. test that was 
administered in the county. 

She had an opportunity, of course, when 
she went visiting the various schools of 
Clark County, Lincoln County, southern 
Nye County, and Esmeralda County, to get 
acquainted with the various teachers. When 
she became superintendent of the Las Vegas 
city schools, she brought in those that she had 
identified as good teachers. Among those was 
K. 0. Knudsen, who had been the principal 
of the schools in Caliente for many years. 
I have mentioned Harold J. Brinley as one. 
Harold had been brought in as a science and 


math teacher. He was also, before the days 
of counselors, one who always had time to 
counsel with the kids. 

Here a while back, it was reported to me 
that Time Magazine had quite an article on the 
Clark County schools under Superintendent 
Newcomer, and what Superintendent 
Newcomer had done to the prosaic and run¬ 
down school system. In fact, it implied that he 
had brought in the only educational system 
that this county had ever had. At that time, 
I intended to find a copy of that magazine, 
because I wanted to write a letter and direct 
the attention of Time Magazine to another 
issue of Time of only about three years ago. In 
two separate and unrelated items, they wrote 
articles on the achievements of Dr. William 
Ogle who was director of the Christmas Tree 
Project of the Atomic Energy Commission 
in the Pacific Ocean (Dr. Ogle was one of the 
outstanding authorities on nuclear fission), 
and Dr. Kiyo Tomiyasu, who was one of the 
leading research scientists in the development 
of laser light. Both of them were graduates 
of the Las Vegas High School, and had been 
tutored in science and math by Harold 
Brinley, had been counseled by him to pursue 
further those fields. 

I don’t know where Dr. Ogle, Bill, is 
now. Bill was a mischievous little devil. I had 
him go through my series of social science 
classes. I always placed him in the desk right 
immediately in front of mine where I could 
reach him. 

Dr. Tomiyasu went on to Harvard; he took 
his doctorate from Harvard. There again is 
a very interesting person, and a member of 
an equally interesting family. His father—we 
called him Bill Tomiyasu—and his mother 
had been immigrants directly from Japan. 
They settled here in this valley, that is, out in 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


69 


the Paradise Valley section of it, on a piece of 
fine ground. They put down a well and got a 
very fine flow of water, and went into intensive 
cultivation of that area. They operated a very 
successful truck gardening project. Mrs. 
Tomiyasu never spoke any English at all, I 
think. Bill, the father, does very well with 
the English language. They had a number of 
children. In addition to Kiyo who went on 
and acquired his doctorate in physics, there 
was Nanyu, an older brother. Nanyu took 
his master’s in agronomy. He has operated 
nurseries here in the valley since that time. 
He also had two sisters who both became M. 
D.’s. One of them died shortly after getting her 
degree, but the other one is practicing at the 
present time in Sawtelle. 

Miss Frazier was also able to attract 
teachers into Las Vegas because of the 
salaries. Las Vegas had consistently paid a 
high salary, but that is only half of the picture. 
The load, that is what the teachers were 
expected to teach, was heavy. It was during 
the Depression, during those years when jobs 
were hard to find. She used to tell us in staff 
meeting that she knew the load was heavy, but 
she also knew that the salary was better than 
they could get anywhere else. She thought, 
however, that we would sooner do a little 
more work and get a little more money for it. 
So those were the conditions under which the 
contract was signed. 

I came in that year at a salary of $1,320, or 
on that basis; of course, I came in February. 
As soon as I finished the requirements for 
my bachelor’s degree, my salary immediately 
went up to $1,520. Then it went up yearly 
after that by $120 increments. Miss Frazier 
was solicitous of the welfare of her teachers, 
and she did everything she could to get us a 
little extra money. 


She came to me, and I knew she went 
to other teachers, and said that she had 
something a little extra for me if I wanted to 
earn it. She needed a policeman for school 
activities. You go to a football game today 
and the field is lined with policemen, but 
they are on the school payroll while they are 
serving the needs of the school. Anyway, I got 
an additional $120 a year for taking over as 
policeman for school activities. 

Again, I got a pretty good initiation 
on my first appearances at football games. 
I was transferred to the high school from 
the elementary in 1930, as teacher of social 
studies. It was at that time that I got the new 
assignment. It was the first football game 
of the season. By that time, there were a lot 
of construction stiffs who had come into 
the country and taken jobs in the building 
of Hoover Darn, and Saturday was a good 
time to take off a little time and pick up 
some moonshine liquor and come to town 
and celebrate. What would be a better place 
to celebrate than a football game? So I was 
policing the crowds, and came across a couple 
of young fellows with six bottles of beer sitting 
there on the bleachers in front of them. I went 
up to them, “Sorry fellows, can’t allow that 
here. I’ll have to lock that up until after the 
game.” “That is o.k., o.k.” So I took their beer 
and locked it up, came back and they had 
moved down to another set of bleachers. As 
I was passing, I saw one of them taking a nip; 
it wasn’t beer this time, it was good old corn 
liquor. So I didn’t stop on formalities, I just 
stormed up there and took his liquor. 

Well, he wasn’t so cooperative this time; he 
resisted quite strenuously, but I got a headlock 
on him, hauled him off the field, pushed 
him outside the gate. In doing so I got a torn 
shirt. I was living just a block down from the 



70 


Elbert B. Edwards 


school so I went home and changed shirts. In 
the meantime he had gone up to the gate and 
bought another ticket. If I had seen him or 
known, I would have thrown him out again. 
Anyway he was back in. 

Between halves, he and his buddy started 
across the field to challenge the referee on 
some decision. Anyway, I followed him 
across. He got to the referee first, and the 
referee didn’t wait on formalities either; he 
took poke at him. By that time there was a 
highway patrolman on the field. He came up 
to them, took them in tow. That guy spent two 
weeks in jail. Nobody would bail him out. We 
had another incident or two, but the Boulder 
City gang after that went along with us. They 
let us play our games in peace. 

Liquor was quite a factor. The highway 
to Boulder City was pretty well lined with 
speakeasies (of course, there were speakeasies 
at that time), and they were subject to raids 
quite regularly. But the word would get out, 
and by the time the officers arrived, about 
all they could ever get was one or two, until 
I guess it was in 1932. There was a federal 
undercover agent came to town and he got 
next to a business man who enjoyed the 
confidence of everyone, offered him a job with 
the federal government in San Francisco, if he 
would use his influence as an undercover man 
for the Bureau of Internal Revenue. 

He went along with them, and under 
their direction he opened up a speakeasy 
or saloon under the name of Liberty’s Last 
Stand. He went along with the federal agents 
in “bugging” the place and also working 
“bugs” into other places. Of course, he 
became a purchaser of moonshine from the 
moonshiners around—and there were plenty 
of them. He got their confidence and after 
they were pretty well settled, the federal boys 
came in and set the trap. 


They had him order from every 
moonshiner in the county for delivery at 
such-and-such a time, the times for delivery 
staggered so no one would be aware of the 
trap. Then they brought in an army of federal 
men. (There was quite a story. In fact, the story 
was written up, you may have run across it. 
There was a book published, called Liberty’s 
Last Stand.) Anyway, the day the trap was to 
be sprung, he had these moonshiners coming 
in with their deliveries. They would come in 
at a certain time, the federal men would take 
them in, place them under arrest, place them 
in the back room and get ready for the next 
one. The next one would come in, they would 
take him inn the meantime, there were other 
federal men hitting every known speakeasy 
in the area. They just cleared the valley of 
moonshiners, of bootleggers, saloon keepers, 
everything. 

Along in connection with the story, this 
fellow that went along with the prohi’s went 
to San Francisco to get his job. Nobody knew 
him, or had ever heard of him. He told his 
story; they had no authority for that, sorry. 
He is the one who wrote the book. His name 
was R. A. Kelly. 

My life in teaching school was interesting 
and enjoyable. In 1929, '30, '31, and on into 
' 32,1 was free and footloose. I spent a lot of 
time in school. I formed the habit then of 
leaving the house at seven o’clock. I was always 
an early riser, and I didn’t have anything to do 
but go to school and to work, so I was there at 
seven. I found that to be the best part of the 
day, and the most productive part of the day, 
although I was there also lots of evenings. I 
always arranged to keep my weekends free. 
I still liked to hunt, and I liked to roan this 
desert. 

Shortly after coming here, I always looked 
for those sandstone bluffs out to the west, 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


71 


and I wanted to see those in the worst way. 
But I was without transportation. (I was still 
paying off the Federation of Women’s Clubs 
in Reno the money I had borrowed, although 
I paid my way up there after the first two 
years. In fact, I left the university with almost 
enough money to meet the debt. Those 
weeks I put in with the Pacific Fruit Express 
Company, I had put in a lot of twenty-four 
hour days with them.) One night, I guess it 
was in August of 1929, I got a little restless 
along about ten o’clock one Friday evening, 
and thought I would take a walk. It was a 
beautiful moonlight night so I started out 
in the direction of the bluffs. I walked out 
there and kept on walking, I imagine about 
six miles. I got a little leg weary so I sat down, 
and went to sleep. It wasn’t uncomfortable 
sleeping out there in August, and I woke 
up as daylight was approaching. I thought 
I would like to get up a little closer and see 
the sunrise on these bluffs. So I walked on. 
I figured it was possibly six miles out there, 
so I walked another six miles. 

The sun came up. It was very impressive, 
but I was still a long ways away. I figured 
about another six miles. I hiked another six 
miles, and by that time I was getting thirsty. 
I came to a sign that said, “Wilson Ranch, six 
miles.” Well, I figured I was closer to water 
in that six miles than I was going back the 
other eighteen, and so I hiked on six miles, 
got out to the Wilson Ranch. There was a 
family there, and they told me that I was 
about twenty-three miles from Las Vegas. 
Anyway, I wandered on up the canyon a 
little ways and got my drink of water from a 
little stream flowing there. I took my shoes 
off, bathed my tired feet, lay down, and slept 
through most of the afternoon. I got up about 
four o’clock, I guess, and started that twenty- 
four mile hike back to Las Vegas. 


I got down to within about six miles of 
Las Vegas, and came to a homesteader’s cabin. 
I thought I would get a drink of water. The 
homesteader was Dr. J. D. Smith, a dentist 
here in Las Vegas; he was living out there 
establishing his claim. That homestead, now, 
is really worth a lot of money. Anyway, he was 
glad to give me a drink. In fact, wouldn’t I 
come in and have a cup of coffee? I had a cup 
of coffee, and Mrs. Smith gave me some little 
cookies. They were the best things I have ever 
tasted. Well, I guess they saw I was stumbling 
from weariness, and Dr. Smith insisted on 
driving me home. I wanted in the worst way 
to walk that last six miles to make up an even 
forty-eight, but he wouldn’t let me. Bed sure 
felt good that night. 

I sure got the dickens from my brother. 
He met me coming in. He said, “Well, I’m 
glad you got here; I can go tell the sheriff to 
call off his posse. 

I teamed up with Lrank Allen, a friend 
of the family, who lived in Alamo previously. 
His wife lived there at home when she was 
going to school at the Lincoln County High 
School several years before. He was operating 
the Taylor ranch. Taylor ranch was originally 
the old Kyle ranch, occupied by the Kyle 
family that feuded with the Stewart family 
originally. It was the place where Mr. Stewart 
had been killed along in 1884. Anyway, it 
had been acquired by John S. Park—he was 
the first banker in Las Vegas—and made it 
into a beautiful garden spot of the southwest. 
They had planted vineyards, and set out 
trees, orchards. They had an abundance of 
water. Anyway, they had sold out in turn 
to a Chicago millionaire by the name of 
William Taylor. He had seen that place, and 
just wanted it the worst way, and he had the 
money to get it, so he purchased it. Then, of 
course, he had someone take care of it, and 



72 


Elbert B. Edwards 


he left it in the hands of his attorney, Leo 
McNamee. Leo McNamee got Frank Allen, a 
family acquaintance. Frank was quite an old 
horse trader, and while he operated the ranch 
he also had horses and cattle and range rights 
out on Sheep Mountain. 

Sheep Mountain had always been quite 
an attraction to me because of the herds of 
mountain sheep up there, and also because it 
was the site of Hidden Forest. Frank needed 
someone to go with him on his expeditions, 
help do his riding, corner his horses, and 
so on. On one occasion in 1930—it was on 
Mother’s Day weekend—he wanted to go out 
and help round up some of his horses and 
cattle and bring them in. 

We left here about four o’clock Saturday 
morning and drove out, took a youngster with 
us, and also took a horse in the trailer. We 
planned to use the horse to round up other 
horses and get our own mounts, and then 
round up the cattle and start them out for Las 
Vegas. We would then turn them over to the 
boy to drive on in while we back tracked in 
the car. Frank would then ride out from the 
home ranch, meet him and help drive the 
stock on in. 

We got out there in pretty good time— 
it was a fifty-mile drive over very rough 
mountain roads—unloaded the horse, and 
started looking for Franks range horses. Well, 
I took a gun and hiked over the mountain; 
of course, my interest was mountain sheep. 
He rode. We covered a lot of territory, but 
we didn’t find any horses. All we found was 
horse tracks that were directed up over the 
mountain. 

Well, during the afternoon, I worked my 
way back to camp, and Frank pushed on to the 
other side of the mountain. He came clattering 
into camp about dusk. He says to me, “Will you 
go with me on into the Pahranagat Valley?” 
(This is on up the mountains another sixty 


miles, possibly.) He said, “I’ll bet you we will 
find those horses and cattle being pushed into 
So-and-so’s pasture in the morning. He had 
found a smoking campfire and the tracks of 
shod horses used to drive his horses and cattle 
on over the mountain toward the Pahranagat 
Valley. I said, “Sure, I’ll go with you.” 

We left the boy there, took the car, and 
went on back toward the road. We saw a car 
coming up the road too, on the Corn Creek 
road we would take to cross over the mountain, 
eventually winding up on Pahranagat Valley. 
We met the car at the junction. It was Frank’s 
sister-in-law and mother-in-law that were 
going to Pahranagat Valley for Mother’s 
Day. They had a note from his father-in-law 
who was in Pahranagat Valley. It had come 
through the mail, telling Frank that So-and- 
so, So-and-so, and So-and-so were out on 
Sheep Mountain rounding up his stock. It was 
obviously a case of stock rustling. 

So we beat it right on into Alamo and got 
Frank’s father-in-law, and brother-in-law, and 
came back out and branched off on the road 
they would be bringing the horses and cattle 
on. Well, we whiled away the rest of the night 
there, but they didn’t come. 

When it came daylight, we started out 
over the mountain and up the valley down 
which they would undoubtedly be coming. 
They hadn’t made the progress that we figured 
they would. After proceeding up the road 
several miles we found we would have to wait 
for them to arrive. I had taken the gun again, 
and started off up toward another spring. I 
looked back down across the valley and saw 
a couple of cowboys driving cattle and horses 
down of f the mountain. So we immediately 
started back down to intercept them. 

Frank’s father-in-law saw them; there was 
a little bad feeling anyway, and he wanted to 
take that gun and start shooting. Well, Frank 
had to fight him for that gun. But anyway, we 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


73 


went on down, and all of a sudden we saw one 
of the men turn and dash back up the hill. We 
thought they must have seen us, so we went on 
down. In reality, he had gone back to round 
up another group of cattle. 

We went on down to where there were 
a couple of horses they had driven over the 
mountain. The rustlers had an old grey mare 
that Frank had worked on the ranch, with 
a stallion tied right to her tail. There were a 
number of other horses and some of Frank’s 
cattle along with cattle of another brand that 
Frank had acquired when he got the range 
rights, W-7 cattle belonging to Roy Grant in 
Cedar City. 

While we were waiting, that is, as soon 
as we got there, we took our belts and put 
around the necks of a couple of other horses, 
proposed to get on and see what we could 
find out. Here came this guy, pushing some 
more stock, and apparently he hadn’t seen us 
yet. Frank gave a yell at him and motioned 
him over. He came over, a little surprised to 
see that it was Frank, the owner of the stock. 

Frank said, “What stock have you got 
here?” “Mustangs.” “Mustangs, well, what are 
those?” “Those are W-7 cattle.” “W-7. How 
do you account for these A-l horses and A-l 
cattle?” That was Frank’s brand. Frank reached 
over and pulled his gun off his saddle and 
handed it to me. He also took the rope off his 
horse and says, “We’re going to round up these 
animals now, and see just what you do have.” 

We put a loop on the noses of the horses 
and got on bareback. I was encumbered with 
the gun and camera and Frank had his gun, 
too. They, Frank and the rustler, were riding 
up front, got to having words, calling a few 
names. Tempers flared and Frank jumped off 
his horse, laid his gun down on a bush and 
invited the man of f to settle this right now. 

Well, he started taking off his chaps. He 
reached around behind and under the flap at 


his chaps. I didn’t know what he was reaching 
for; it turned out he was just getting them 
unbuckled to free himself of them. I assumed 
he had the gun inside his chaps, and thought 
I would settle the matter right now, so I told 
him he was under arrest. 

Well, he immediately assumed something 
that wasn’t true. He assumed that I was a 
deputy sheriff or a sheriff and that their goose 
was really cooked. Anyway, he calmed down 
right now. About that time, along came his 
companion. Frank says, “As long as you have 
assumed the responsibility here, why don’t 
you take the other one, too? We will take them 
in to Las Vegas and turn them over to Sam 
Gay for rustling cattle.” 

I knew this other guy who came in 
although he didn’t recognize me. I had gone 
to school with him in Lincoln County. He 
had become a heavyweight boxer. He had 
made quite a reputation for himself down 
there. Anyway, I stuck my neck out and said, 
“Are you tied in with this deal here?” “Yes.” 
“Well, we will take you in to Las Vegas with 
us then.” I was making a citizen’s arrest, but 
they didn’t know it. 

On our way out onto the range we came 
to a fork in the road, one fork going toward 
Las Vegas and the other coming up from 
the range. Here we had found a little rock 
monument with a stake and a red flag on it; 
a piece of red handkerchief, I guess it was. 
In that little monument was a note. It was 
addressed to these two guys out in the hills by 
their brother. This note called them by name 
and says, “Bring in only W-7 cattle and get in 
and see me as quick as you can. Ike is going to 
pen you up. Signed, (their brother).” Ike was 
Frank’s father-in-law. Well, we picked up the 
note and went on, but we had no sooner got 
these two guys in custody and in the process 
of loading them into the car to take them to 
Las Vegas, than here came an old stripped- 



74 


Elbert B. Edwards 


down Chevy—about 1924 vintage, maybe 
earlier than that—steaming like a Stanley 
Steamer, with this brother. He got out and 
wanted to know what in the dickens was 
going on. 

It was Frank’s problem, of course, and 
there was a question about the W-7 cattle. 
Why that should have interfered, I don’t 
know, because they did have A-l horses and 
A-l cattle. Anyway, talking it back and forth, 
and letting a little of the heat wear of f, Frank 
decided that he would clear up with this fellow 
in Utah, Roy Grant, because they apparently 
had been authorized to pick W-7 cattle by 
him, and it was his brand; the brand had never 
been changed. There was that question. Frank 
decided that he would let them go until that 
matter had been cleared up, but told them to 
hold themselves in readiness. Furthermore, 
there was a question of the county boundary 
line in there too, a question of taking them 
from Lincoln County to Clark County. 

It was getting late in the afternoon—it was 
Sunday by now—and I had to be back ready 
to teach school the next morning. We hadn’t 
had any sleep since the time we left Las Vegas, 
and very little to eat. It was decided I would 
take Frank’s father-in-law and brother-in-law 
back to Alamo. Frank would take these horses 
and cattle back over the hill, turn them over to 
the kid that came out with us, and he would 
follow on through to Las Vegas. So I put my 
passengers in Frank’s car and took them on 
back to Alamo, got myself some dinner. Boy, 
that sure tasted good! 

On my way back down Pahranagat Valley, 
I met the older brother driving home in his 
car, and another car coming along behind 
with the other two brothers. Anyway, the 
older brother flagged me down, came over 
to my car and said, “These fellows want to 
talk to you.” I said, “O.K.” They came up, 
stopped, got out. This prize-fighter came over 


and looked me over. “Say,” he said, “You got 
a star or badge or anything to indicate you 
are a deputy sheriff?” I says, “No.” “Did Sam 
Gay deputize you before you left Las Vegas?” 
I said, “No.” I was shaking in my boots. He 
said, “well, come on out, “I’ll give you a 
badge.” He jerked the car door open, grabbed 
me by the shirt collar and struck me in the 
mouth. That just irritated me no end. So I 
came out of that car with a lot of momentum 
and with the advantage of stepping down off 
that running board. Anyway, I knocked him 
down. He went reeling over into the gutter on 
the other side of the road. My rush carried me 
past these other two who were on either side 
of me, and they jumped on me from behind, 
took me down to my knees, but I got a pretty 
good hold on them. 

I thought the better part of valor here 
was to see what the game was going to be, 
so I held on and made them feel that their 
position there with my arms around their 
knees was a little bit shaky. Anyway, the older 
brother says, “If you’ll be good we will let you 
up.” “I’ll be good if you’ll be good, but I won’t 
be any better.” They let me up. The other guy 
hadn’t come to yet, but he did. He began to 
come out of it, and came staggering back and 
was inclined to want to mix some more, but 
the older brother was as good as his word. He 
says, “You’ve had yours, you stay out of this 
now.” He turned to me and says, “You know 
what we are going to do now with you?” I said, 
“No, I don’t.” “Well we are going to take you 
down to Johnny Richards, the deputy sheriff.” 

These guys didn’t know me; I knew them 
or knew who they were. I said, “No, you’re 
not. You’re not going to take me anywhere 
and you’re not going to take me to the deputy 
sheriff. But I will go with you. In fact, I would 
just like to tell Johnny Richards my story. I 
would sooner tell him my story than listen 
to you tell yours.” That sort of took them 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


75 


back. “Well, we would take you down there, 
but Frank Allen is a good friend of ours, 
and we know that he is waiting down on the 
mountain for you, and that you have to get 
him back home.” Well, they did a lot of talking. 
Before we parted they said to me, “Why don’t 
you come up sometime and go hunting with 
us? Come, we’ll go out in the hills, eat with 
us, and sleep with us. You will find that we are 
not such a bad crew.” I indicated that it might 
be a good idea; I wanted to get away. 

About that time, anyway, along come 
the two that had come up for Mother’s day; 
Frank’s mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother- 
in-law, the three of them. They knew what 
had happened on the hill, because I had had 
dinner with them. Anyway I got away from 
the would-be rustlers and proceeded on back 
to the camp on the mountain. 

I arrived back at the Sheep Mountain 
camp about ten o’clock, and back into Las 
Vegas about three o’clock the next morning. 
I was out to school at eight o’clock. I had a 
big mouth from the punch I received in the 
fight, and they had broken one of my teeth 
again. I went to Doc Smith to replace that 
tooth. He wondered if I had been out on any 
wild jaunts anymore since he had picked me 
and driven me to Las Vegas the night of my 
long hike from Red Rock Canyon. The next 
day Frank came to me at school to tell me 
how things were going in Pahranagat Valley. 
He said, “Those boys up in Alamo got things 
pretty much upset all along, saying that you 
had been impersonating an officer.” I said, 
“Well, what are you going to do?” He said, 
“I am on my way up there now. Do you 
have anything you want me to say?” “No, 
I would rather say it myself. If you’ll give 
me until noon,” I said, “I will see if I can 
get a substitute, and I will go up with you.” 
We went up. In the meantime, they had 
gone over into Utah, and got that guy who 


owned the W-7 cattle and he and Frank got 
together and ironed out their question of 
cattle ownership immediately. They were 
Frank’s cattle and there was no question but 
that his stock was being rustled. 

Frank’s father-in-law and mother-in- 
law lived in the valley. However, his wife 
was afraid that if he preferred charges the 
rustlers would retaliate on them. They were 
operating a little poultry ranch. They were 
very susceptible to raids, so he just forgot it. 
Well, that was nearly thirty-six years ago so 
things have had a chance to change. 

But, you know, cattle rustling goes on, 
even though it is done differently. They drive 
up alongside of the critter in the hills in a 
pickup, haul the meat off, or drive off with 
live animals. It isn’t done on the scale that it 
was done at one time, by whole herds. But 
human nature hasn’t changed. 

While in Las Vegas, I served in various 
capacities in church activities, as a Sunday 
School teacher, as an assistant to the president 
of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement 
Association, as a drama teacher in the 
Mutual Improvement Association, quite a bit 
of time in Scout work. We used to enjoy that. 

One of our favorite Scout outings was 
down on the Colorado River. We would go 
down and hob-nob around the old Callville 
ruins. We liked to get driftwood, tie it 
together in the form of a raff, float down 
the river for a few miles. We did quite a lot 
of fishing along the river, caught primarily 
catfish, channel cats, but they were a gourmet 
dish. There were a lot of other trash fish, 
mostly suckers, what we called the honey 
tail, an occasional snapping turtle, and a big 
hump-backed sucker we called the buffalo 
sucker. Once in a while, we caught what was 
supposedly identified as a white salmon. It 
was not a particularly large fish, but it was a 
very nice fish. 



76 


Elbert B. Edwards 


My wife, after we were married, served 
also as a Sunday School teacher here in 
Las Vegas, as a primary teacher. After we 
moved to Boulder City, she served for several 
years as president of the Ward Primary 
Association, and several years also as the 
president of the Ward Relief Society For the 
last nine years she has been serving as state 
president of the Relief Society organization. 
That is one field where she has no trouble 
finding something to do! 

After we were married in 1932, our 
oldest child was born in 1933. During the 
immediate subsequent years, I liked to get 
summer employment on the Dam when 
I could. It wasn’t always possible, but I 
did work down there during a number of 
seasons. 

On one job that I recall in particular, 
I was working on the inside of the 30-foot 
penstock tubes. They had been pretty well 
installed, and at this time it was a private 
contract for the purpose of lining them with 
a hot tar enamel. They had large furnaces to 
melt the tar. They would bring it in several 
hundred-pound cakes, chop it up with an 
axe, throw it in this furnace, let it melt. They 
had five-gallon buckets, and we would carry 
that to the painters; those that were putting 
it on, applying it with mops. It was supposed 
to go on anywhere from two to three inches 
in thickness. 

There were times when we had quite a 
carry—300 yards. Those five gallon buckets, 
one on either arm for that distance, could 
get quite heavy. Furthermore, by the time 
we got there, a certain amount of the tar had 
congealed on the bucket, and so we had to 
carry both ways. The more trips we had, the 
more it built up. Finally we were carrying 
dead weight. Almost half of the weight was 
dead weight both ways. The contractors were 
there to make money. 


I also worked for the government. That was 
at different times, and an entirely different type 
of task master. I remember on one occasion, 
something happened along the way somewhere, 
and we were short a man, or something, and 
the boss didn’t know it. Anyway, we had a 200- 
or 300-yard carry on that deal too, and I was 
supposed to be supplying two painters (there 
were two painters, and one carrier). I was the 
carrier, and I was supposed to keep them both 
busy. I wasn’t doing too well at that. In fact, I 
had stopped to take a breather. The boss came 
along and wanted to know why in the dickens 
we couldn’t keep those painters busy down 
there. He was actually surprised when he found 
out that I had been doing as well as I had. 

On that job, though, there was a very 
disagreeable situation because of the vapor 
that came off of that stuff. I was warned when 
I went in that I ought to get a particular type 
of grease, cover my exposed skin, my face, and 
my hands, because otherwise, when I went out 
in the sunlight, it would burn. It didn’t sound 
reasonable to me that anything like that could 
happen, and so I paid no attention to it. 

That sane summer, 1936, we had acquired a 
lot down on the corner of Ninth and Bonneville, 
and made arrangements to build a house. We 
made application for an FHA loan; it was one 
of the first here in town, and the contractors 
had bid on the construction. We were planning 
a basement. In this particular instance, we felt 
that a basement could be practical because we 
had a neighbor just next door who had just 
recently built. He had dug a basement, and it 
was easy digging all the way down. It was good 
soil all the way down for more than the seven 
feet that he dug, and so I thought, well, why 
not? So we planned it with a basement, and the 
contractors bid figured $75.00 for digging out 
that basement. It would be 18 x 25.1 figured I 
could dig that out in three days, and made good 
money. In any case, I didn’t believe my job at 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


77 


the Dam would last too much longer, and so I 
went to work on the basement. 

I came out of those penstock tubes, and 
out into the open sun. Those fellows knew 
what they were talking about when they said 
that I should have protected my skin, because 
I turned so black, I could go downtown, and 
no one would recognize me. 

There was another factor to that, although 
it had changed my appearance. That summer 
my tooth problem had again caught up with 
me. By that time I had worn out two or three 
more bridges, and every time I wore out and 
replaced a bridge, it was because I had worn 
out the teeth that it was anchored on. So 
this time I went in, and had all of my uppers 
extracted, and so there I was without teeth. I 
hadn’t been able to eat very effectively. I had 
been working out in that sun. Furthermore, 
after I got down about thirty inches, I ran into 
that solid gyp hard pan, so from there on out, 
it was a matter of single-jacking and blasting. 
One other thing; that summer I had a mess of 
boils. They were just all over me. I had been 
weighing about 190 pounds; I went down to 
170. That year when I went back to school 
(of course, by that time I did have my teeth), 
they all wondered who the new teacher was. 

Building that house, we built a good house. 
We had a good contractor. We had acquired a 
lot, a 75-foot corner lot, 75 x 140 feet deep. It 
cost us $325 for the ground. The contract price 
on the house, 1,200 feet upstairs, and the full 
basement, was $3,640; a house that today you 
wouldn’t be able to duplicate for $35,000. The 
land itself would cost several thousand dollars 
in that location. 

I had always been interested in studying 
law. I wanted to be an attorney. With the 
responsibilities of a family, I didn’t see any 
chance of realizing that by going to school. 
So, I enrolled in a La Salle extension course. 
I was very much interested in it and getting 


along very nicely in it, devoting particularly my 
summer time to it when I was approached with 
the proposition that I apply for a position in the 
State Department of Education: Deputy State 
Superintendent of the fifth supervision district. 
I didn’t feel at the time that I was too interested 
in it, but it did offer a little more money than I 
was getting; although in the long run it didn’t 
pay out any better because it was a twelve month 
job. Anyway, I found myself applying for it. 

I had a friend who had taken the same 
position in 1934, and he had been appointed 
by Chauncey Smith. Chauncey Smith had died 
when he was in office, and Governor Kirman 
had appointed his office deputy, Mildred Bray. 
At the end of the term, this friend, Leonard 
Sledge, filed to run against Mildred for the job. 
He was one who came after me to try for his j ob. 

Well, Mildred Bray interviewed me, and 
I told her that I was a personal friend of 
Leonard’s. Well, she wanted to know how I was 
going to stand on the election. I said, “Well, it 
I get the appointment from you, I still won’t 
feel that I can work against him, but at the 
same time, it would be like biting the hand that 
was feeding me if I were to campaign against 
you. I will stay neutral.” Well, she wasn’t too 
enthusiastic about appointing me, but there 
was a lot of pressure brought to bear. I had a lot 
of endorsements from down here, prominent 
people of the community, and the county put 
the pressure on her, and I got the appointment. 

I labored in the office under rather 
difficult conditions because—I think it was 
just a lack of faith in my ability—I had been 
appointed under pressure. 

The area covered, I think I mentioned 
before, Lincoln, Clark, Esmeralda, and 
southern Nye counties, as far north in Nye 
county as Tonopah. It was an interesting 
assignment during the period that I had it. One 
of the responsibilities was to visit every school 
in the district at least twice a year, and so during 



78 


Elbert B. Edwards 


the fall of the year, and again in the spring, I 
would take to the road to visit those schools. 

I particularly remember my first visit to 
Silver Peak. I happened in there the day after 
Halloween, and as I drove into the town, I 
thought that things seemed peculiar. There 
were little groups of people standing around in 
various places, people out in front of the houses, 
and talking with neighbors. There was just 
something in the air. Of course, it was my first 
appearance in the town; I didn’t know the town, 
I didn’t know where the school was. I drove 
on, and pretty soon I came to a lot, and well, 
that looked like a school up there. There was a 
bunch of kids playing around the flagpole, and 
a flag flying, but over here on a vacant hi ll side 
there was another building. It had been propped 
up on blocks, and there was an old school 
bell laying in front of the door. The building, 
though, was definitely on a slant. Passing it, I 
looked in and it had a lot of school equipment 
in it. It was definitely the school building. 

The law of the state at that time provided 
in the establishment of high schools, that a 
high school district could not be formed in 
any county within forty miles of an already- 
established high school. Well, this was in 
Esmeralda County. There was an established 
high school in Goldfield, and Silver Peak was 
just thirty-eight miles from Goldfield, but 
the road was practically impassable; it was 
impassable the greater part of the year. In 
fact, the only way I could get from Goldfield 
to Silver Peak was to go by way of Tonopah, 
and from Tonopah on over to Coaldale, next 
to the Coaldale junction, and turn south 
from there. A long, roundabout way. So 
it was absolutely impractical to think of 
transporting those Silver Peak youngsters 
to Goldfield. In order to comply with the 
law the people of Silver Peak had set up the 
school building two miles on the other side 
of town from Goldfield and had established 


a school organization which was recognized 
by the state department. They were getting 
regular state aid. It irritated the people of 
Silver Peak no end that here was their town, 
and they had to take their kids—or the kids 
had to travel—out of town, over the roughest 
of roads during the most inclement weather 
regardless, just to go to that schoolhouse. 

So they had taken advantage of 
Hallowe’en. They had taken the one county 
commissioner that would have objected to it, 
and had entertained him all evening in a bar, 
while the boys of the town of various ages on 
up had got the necessary equipment, gone 
up and jacked up that schoolhouse, put on 
wheels, hauled it into town, and set it down 
on that hillside. 

I don’t know what those people thought 
when they found out I was representing 
the State Department of Education, and 
happened to be in town just the day after these 
shenanigans had been going on. Here they 
had blatantly violated the law. Regardless, I 
felt that it was the best Hallowe’en stunt that 
I ever encountered, other than the one I 
pulled at one time. Anyway, no one had any 
money to haul that school building back the 
two miles, so it stayed where it was. 

I found all over this district, a lot of 
very fine teaching being done. There was 
poor teaching, poor preparation, there were 
poorly-prepared teachers, but on the whole 
there were some very fine people. I was 
particularly impressed at that time by the 
work that was being done in the elementary 
schools, particularly in Tonopah. 

They had some old, long-time Tonopah 
residents teaching. There was Mrs. Jennie 
Currieux—I had known her daughter when 
I was at the University—a tall, stately lady of 
well over sixty years of age at the time. There 
was a Mrs. Helene Slavin who had been in the 
Tonopah schools for thirty years. I can’t think 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


79 


of all those who were there at the time. They 
were old-timers. They were highly-respected in 
the community the kids responded beautifully 
to them, and they were teaching fundamentals. 

I saw some fine teaching, too, in one- 
teacher schools. There was just a young girl 
teaching in Clover Valley in Lincoln County, 
Vera Delmue. She was a Lincoln County girl 
herself. She had those youngsters organized so 
that they were assuming a lot of responsibility 
themselves. The older students were tutoring 
the younger students, and there was just a 
hum of industry, and good work going on. 

I was impressed by the principal of the 
high school at Tonopah, Clarence Bird. He 
went to the University, and was Director of 
Admissions there. It was from him that I 
first heard what every superintendent ought 
to have: At least a $10,000 “Go to Hell fund.” 
It would give them independence from local 
conditions, and local interference. Of course, 
that $10,000 “Go to Hell fund” wouldn’t take 
a modern superintendent very far. It ought to 
be $60,000 “Go to Hell fund” today. 

Another person that made a great 
impression on me was Ert Moore, the 
principal at Beatty. He had a combination job 
there of elementary and high school. I think 
there were three teachers covering elementary 
and high. He had one fellow, Fred Dees. They 
were teaching Latin, and I think that Fred 
Dees was teaching those kids three years of 
Latin. Ert Moore gave the impression of a 
country boy. There were quite a number of 
Indians in the area at the time, and Ert did the 
work of an Indian agent, a father confessor, a 
general welfare agent. He did everything for 
those Indians. If they were sick, he saw that 
they were taken care of. If they were hungry, 
he saw that they got food. I think that it was 
just too bad when Ert Moore moved away 
from Beatty. I think he is the principal of one 
of the schools in Reno at this time. 


I was visiting in Ert s home one time, and 
noted a quiver made of a fox skin filled with 
genuine Indian arrows hanging on the wall. 
I asked him where in the dickens he found 
those. Oh, Skidoo made them for him. I said, 
“Could you get Skidoo to make some for me?” 
Why, he thought so, and so the next time I 
came around, he had a dozen arrows for me, 
genuine Indian, right from the obsidian tip 
through the sinew, feathering, and so on. I 
have most of those today. I have been bribed 
out of one or two of them. 

Here in Las Vegas, we had a local amateur 
archeologist, Dr. William S. Park. I had to 
show those to Dr. Park. He says, “Edwards, 
could you get me a dozen of those?” “Well, 
I’ll try, Doctor.” So I got Dr. Park a dozen of 
them. Dr. Park, of course, has been dead for 
many years. Recently, I was visiting in the little 
museum, the Lost City Museum at Overton, 
and Dr. Park’s collection had largely gone to 
that museum. There I saw those arrows. They 
were identified, though, as ancient Indian 
arrows. They were sure still in good condition! 

I had an interesting experience when I 
went into another school district for the first 
time. It was the Dyer school district in Fish 
Lake Valley. I had no idea how to get there, 
Of course, I picked up directions, and I had 
figured I had taken the right road. Anyway, 
it was winding down through the country. 
Way off in the distance, I could see a clump of 
trees. I figured, well, that must be it. So I kept 
working toward those trees. As I approached 
the trees, I came to beautifully-kept fields, 
occupied by the prettiest blooded stock I 
had ever seen; beautiful Poland China hogs, 
and blooded Black Angus cattle, beautiful 
highly-bred horses. I was just looking with 
all the eyes I had. All of a sudden I came up 
against a fence, and on the other side of that 
fence it looked like acres of dog kennels filled 
with Russian wolfhounds. Well, I stopped. A 



80 


Elbert B. Edwards 


ranch hand came along. Of course, I had to 
get some information from him. 

It was a ranch that had been taken over by 
a Chicago heiress, one of the Kellogg family. 
He said that she had just about 100 of those 
Russian wolfhounds there in those kennels. 
She used to fly her blooded stock back to 
Chicago to show. Later, she went down into 
Pahrump Valley to get some land there. I got 
several stories on her from an insurance agent. 
She wanted money faster than her trust fund 
would permit, and so she would take out a 
life insurance policy, and borrow against 
that. She developed a beautiful well there in 
Pahrump Valley, a tremendous flow of water, 
and was developing quite an acreage when she 
contracted tularemia, and died, I think, quite 
suddenly in the Tonopah hospital. 

Another interesting character was over in 
the Pahrump Valley, an old-timer by the name 
of Frank Buol. Frank had a very interesting 
place; it would pass as a home museum, most 
any time, anywhere. Re had a nice collection 
of Indian baskets. He had a book on Death 
Valley, the only one I have ever seen; he 
permitted me to read it. It was intriguing. 
It mentioned, among other things, the Lee 
family. The original old man Henry Lee 
was the one after which Lees Canyon in the 
Spring Mountain Range, generally known as 
Charleston, is named. An interesting feature 
was Henry’s four sons. They were named 
Leander, Philander, Meander, Salamander. 

Frank Buol classed himself as a wine 
merchant. He raised grapes of a very fine 
wine-making variety. He was regularly 
licensed for wine-making, and wine-selling. 
For years he was an assemblyman from Nye 
County. I can vouch for the quality of that 
wine. Whenever I dropped in on him, he had 
Ry-Krisp, blue cheese, and wine. It made a 
very worthwhile snack. 


One school district, Cave Valley in Lincoln 
County, was probably the most remote that 
I had to visit. Conditions in there were quite 
primitive. There were one or two fairly nice 
ranches, but a lot of the people were living at 
the poverty level. To get in, I would go from 
Pioche on out to Bristol Wells, on over to 
Nye County, pass through Sunnyside, which 
was a school district in another supervision 
district. I was over Supervision District Five, 
and that was Supervision District Two. Then 
I would pass back into Cave Valley, which 
was in Supervision District Five. I had to go 
in that way; I could come out over Patterson 
Pass because it was down hill. There were few 
jump-offs, and you come down over those 
jumpoffs, but you couldn’t go up over them. 
A four-wheel drive jeep probably would be 
able to make it now. 

My impression of the schoolhouse there 
was of an old stable that had been boarded up 
and a rough floor put in the open spaces. You 
had to be careful as you went from one side 
of the room to the other to avoid the holes 
through the floor. But the teacher seemed to 
be doing quite a lot for those little kids. All the 
kids had to ride horses to school. The teacher 
was telling me that she had tried two or three 
different horses before she could find one that 
could carry her to school. She had some rather 
hard spills. She had to learn how to ride the 
horse so she could get to school. 

I am told that the school district had 
been subject to some feuding between the 
neighbors. My predecessor in office, Leonard 
Sledge, had told me that he had been unwise 
enough to visit one board member first, and 
so when he came up to the house of another 
one, he was denied admission by this board 
member, who took his stand in front of the gate 
with a gun. The school board member in Cave 
Valley who was so irritable was more or less of 



My Career in Las Vegas Valley 


81 


a transient. The following year, he had moved 
out. Incidentally, Leonard had also told me 
about attending a board meeting in Pahranagat 
Valley where the board members came heeled. 

An aspect of the job that I liked, of course, 
was being out on the road. I had opportunity, 
if not need, to camp out every once in a while. 
I carried a sleeping bag, and a couple of Dutch 
ovens. I would find some very likely camping 
spots. Over in Ash Meadows, there was a 
beautiful, big spring that made a delightful 
swimming hole. Then another good camping 
spot was up at Crystal Springs. I always 
scheduled my trips to permit a night camp 
at these spots. 

I remember stopping at Beatty once on my 
way down to visit the school at Ash Meadows. 
Of course, I had also come by Pahrump. 
Anyway, I stopped at the general store in 
Beatty to pick up some supplies. I asked for a 
pound of bacon. “Do you want it sliced?” “Yes,” 
I said, “Go ahead and slice it.” I was looking for 
something else. When I opened up my bacon 
to cook it, it was sliced, in three pieces. 

One of our major responsibilities, aside 
from visiting schools, and keeping the state 
department acquainted with the conditions 
in the schools, and checking on budgets, 
and getting reports and so on, was that of 
organizing and supervising an institute. We 
had an institute, district teacher institute, every 
alternate year. It alternated with a state institute. 
The state institute generally was required for 
all of the teachers in the district where it was 
held, and then generally the administrators 
from elsewhere in the state. When it came to 
providing for the Fifth Supervision District 
Institute, that was my responsibility. 

As a general rule, the state department 
sought out educational leaders. There was 
a certain expense fund that provided for an 
honorarium for visiting speakers. Generally, it 


was someone who could go from one institute 
to another. Anyway, they were generally 
provided by the state. Ours came at such a time 
when the state selection was not available, so 
they said, “Well, you take care of that.” I was 
just about lost, but I did have one contact at 
the University of Southern California. I had a 
friend there who recommended a Dr. Chen, 
a Chinese, and I was desperate. If he hadn’t 
accepted the assignment, I don’t believe we 
could have had an institute, so I was just 
grasping at straws. He accepted, and I know 
that the State Superintendent, when I told 
her who I had, was very skeptical. He turned 
out to be outstanding. I couldn’t have done 
better. He brought a genuine message, he had 
the personality to go with it. He just thrilled 
everybody and, probably best of all, he sold 
me finally to my boss. 

It was a position, though, that I had to do 
my own secretarial work. It was twelve months 
of work. It paid $2,400 a year, provided, of 
course, travel expense, but was limiting in 
opportunities for personal development. 

I had had occasion to get acquainted out 
at Boulder City, because they were having 
trouble, too. There were factions in the 
community. They had had a very difficult 
educational history out there, anyway; they 
had had a recall election on their school board. 
They were pretty much upset. They had had 
to settle for an inexperienced and untrained 
administrator. I had had to go out on many 
occasions to get records, look the records 
up on attendance and teacher operation and 
so on, myself. In so doing, of course, I got 
pretty well acquainted with the school board 
members. So near the end of my second year in 
the job as Deputy Superintendent, they offered 
me the Superintendency out there. I figured it 
was like jumping from the frying pan into the 
fire, but it would feel good anyway. 




7 


Boulder City History 
and Education 


We might start at the beginning with 
Boulder City. Boulder City is a very interesting 
community It was a specialty community built 
for only one purpose, and that was to house 
the workmen and provide accommodations 
for them during the period that the Dam 
was being built. Also, of course, it provided 
a base of operation, and office spaces for 
those who were engaged in that activity; 
for the contractors, and for the Bureau of 
Reclamation supervision. 

Boulder City was also built during a 
difficult national period. It was during the 
great Depression, during the gangster era 
in American history, and also near the end 
of the Prohibition period. The government 
recognized that it was going to be the biggest 
construction job in the Western Hemisphere, 
or in the world for that matter, in modern 
history, with the single exception of the 
Panama Canal. They knew that the eyes 
of the world would be on the city and on 
Nevada. They knew that the state of Nevada, 
with questionable moral standards, legal 
requirements, and so on, because of the 


divorce question and its stand on gambling, its 
free and easy liquor control, gave it something 
of a black eye throughout the United States. So 
they felt that having a government sponsored 
town, they had to keep it clean, so to speak. So 
they set aside a tract of land for government 
ownership and government supervision. It 
was there that they built the town. 

The first or earliest construction was of 
dormitories for workmen, single workmen. 
Of course, workmen generally came in 
alone. It was during the Depression years, 
and there were a lot of men loose looking 
for work anyway, so they came in and were 
accommodated in the dormitories. Then, of 
course, following that came the construction 
of the dwelling houses, and family men would 
make arrangements for a dwelling house to 
which they would bring their families. 

One interesting aspect of it was providing 
for eating facilities for the men. Anderson 
Brothers came in for that purpose, and put 
up a huge cafeteria, or restaurant service. 
They provided a very fine meal, in fact—again 
during Depression years—it was someplace 



84 


Elbert B. Edwards 


for most anyone in the country to go to in 
order to get a good meal cheap. As I recall, 
we could go over there, and get a meal for 
thirty-five cents, all we could eat, and very 
well prepared food. The workers themselves 
took advantage of it. 

There were, of course, a lot of the workmen 
that commuted from Las Vegas. There were 
a lot that couldn’t find accommodations in 
Boulder City, and so they would come out. 
The workmen themselves, or those who took 
advantage of Anderson’s mess hall, would 
provide them with a lunch. The workmen 
were free to go along the line and pick up 
sandwiches and whatever else they wanted to 
make a lunch of, and they would take enough 
for several men and share it with others down 
on the Dam. Nevertheless, because of the 
volume of business, the low prices for basic 
produce, and the cost of labor, Andersons still 
made a lot of money. During those days in any 
case, there were a lot of people who were well- 
fed, who might otherwise have gone hungry. 

Boulder City was, as we have noted, laid 
out in accordance with the felt needs. The 
government administration building was 
constructed at the top of a hill. Lawns and 
parks were so foreign to the desert that they 
were left out in the beginning. For several 
years, the city still presented quite a rain- 
washed appearance because of the lack of 
vegetation. But with the years, the vegetation 
grew and it did become a very beautiful little 
community. 

As the Dam neared completion and as 
the demand for employees began to decrease, 
the city itself began to decrease in size. So 
by about 1938, Six Companies, which had 
built homes for their employees began to sell 
those houses out, and they were picked up 
and moved out. They were moved most every 
direction from Las Vegas that the roads would 
permit. A lot of them were carried into Las 


Vegas, some were moved up to Overton, some 
to Searchlight. Anyway, whole blocks that had 
been thriving with life were denuded of the 
housing. The area reverted back to desert, 
with only the curbs and the paved streets 
to show an indication of having been at one 
time occupied. That state of affairs continued 
until about 1940. Of course, the Bureau of 
Reclamation continued to operate from there. 

All of the work was not by any means 
complete when the Dam was completed. 
They had to build, complete, and furnish the 
powerhouse with all the generators, and so on. 
It required quite a force, but it didn’t nearly 
equal the numbers that had been there in 
construction days of the Dam proper. 

The government activities carried on, and 
as power became available, the government 
also established a little pilot experimental 
camp under the jurisdiction of the Bureau 
of Mines, primarily for the purpose of 
determining the uses of various resources of 
the area, and the state of Nevada, and also to 
take advantage of the use of electric power 
in the experimental use of electricity for the 
metallurgical experimentation. So an office 
of the Bureau of Mines was established there, 
and it has played quite a prominent part in 
the affairs of the community since that time. 

There have been occasions when finances, 
federal finances, have threatened the Bureau 
of Mines installation. In fact, the situation is 
current right now. It was supposed to have 
been phased out just a year ago (1964), but the 
community, through the state’s Congressman 
and Senators appealed for an extension of 
time with the hopes that they would find a 
project that it could be utilized for. 

One of the very outstanding achievements 
of that of f ice was in the invention of a 
method for reducing titanium. One of the 
scientists that was located here in Boulder 
City came up with the process, and it is the 



Boulder City History and Education 


85 


process, I understand, that is being used 
so successfully today During the war, they 
utilized the plant for the production of 
manganese on a commercial basis. That is, 
because the commercial plants could not 
provide for the needs of the government in 
that field, they went ahead and produced what 
they could to their capacity 

With the filling of the lake, the completion 
of the Dam, there came, of course, the 
recreational aspects of the area. People 
began to capitalize, take advantage of the 
opportunities for fishing, for boating, and 
so on. And that brought the National Park 
Service into the picture; something again 
which contributed to stabilizing Boulder City 
as a community. 

Since that time, too, the National Park 
Service has come to play a very prominent 
part, not only in Boulder City but in the 
Lake Mead recreational area, which includes 
also the area around Lake Mojave. In fact, it 
takes in land all along the Nevada side of the 
Colorado River where it serves as Nevada’s 
southern boundary. 

With the coming of the war, and even 
before we got into the war, the Department 
of Defense (I guess, at that time it was 
Department of War), recognized the strategic 
importance of the Dam and powerhouse, and 
they began construction in 1940, of an Army 
police camp in Boulder City. 

With all of these factors coming to a 
head, you had the Bureau of Mines, the 
Park Service, the construction of a small 
army camp, it began to reverse the decrease 
in the population. The population, on the 
contrary, began to grow, and Boulder City 
found that it had been premature in selling 
out its housing. So it started all over again to 
rebuild. It never got big, but it did grow right 
at that time. Practically all of the facilities, 
utility provisions that had originally been 


constructed or provided were utilized. Of 
course, with that also came the growth of the 
school that I have discussed elsewhere. 

There is one little incident that transpired 
back in Washington with poor old Charlie 
Russell. He was a victim, an innocent victim 
of circumstances, I think, that made him 
Boulder City conscious. It goes back to 
another story—that of the naming of the 
Dam. 

The Dan originally was designed to be 
built in Boulder Canyon on the Colorado 
River. Eventually, it was built in Black Canyon, 
several miles downstream from Boulder 
Canyon; first, because of the geological 
formations which were more substantial, 
second, because it was more accessible, and 
third, because it was just as good a dam 
site, and much more effective because of 
additional storage capacity it provided for 
the lake. Anyway, the name came with it, and 
during all of the planning years, the surveying 
years and all, it was Boulder Dam. 

In the initial stages of getting the work 
under way, as they were driving a silver spike 
that started the railroad spur from the main 
line in Las Vegas on out to the Dam site; Ray 
Lyman Wilbur, Secretary of the Interior at the 
time, officiating and driving the silver spike, 
in his dedicatory speech, initiatory speech 
or whatever it was, indicated that the Dam 
would henceforth be named after that great 
engineer under whose jurisdiction it had 
originally been planned; it would be known 
as Hoover Dam. 

That sort of left the people here cold, 
because Hoover was more or less being held 
responsible for the Depression and so on, and 
they tended to associate his name with Hoover 
City, which was a city made up of poverty 
stricken transients going through, looking 
for work. Anyway, that name persisted until 
Lranklin Delano Roosevelt came in, and 



86 


Elbert B. Edwards 


I don’t know what motivated it. I always 
thought it was a pretty mean trick myself to 
change the name back to Boulder Dam. The 
old name, however, was welcomed back. At 
least that was the reaction of the people of 
this area. It was Boulder City, and it should 
be Boulder Dam. The names complemented 
each other. 

Then when Harry Truman got in, Harry 
Truman, of course, was a Democrat, and 
Herbert Hoover was a Republican, but it was 
made in some way politically expedient for 
Harry Truman to see that the Congress took 
action, and officially and irrevocably made it 
Hoover Dam. 

Charlie Russell hadn’t been in on any of 
the difficulties; he didn’t see anything wrong 
with it. He had no instructions in Nevada or 
Boulder City. The question came up, he voted 
with the majority, and in accordance with 
the recommendation of Harry Truman. And 
boy, did Boulder City descend on Charlie! It 
was already done, but Charlie was anxious to 
do what the people wanted, so he was very 
receptive to going to bat for Boulder City on 
most anything else. 

The question of the administration of 
Boulder City was one that had rankled some 
and pleased others. It was still a government 
town and designed to serve the needs of the 
Department of Interior, and, for a while, the 
Department of War. At the same time there 
were people, individuals, private capital who 
wanted to take advantage of it, wanted to 
build a community, wanted to see it grow. 
All of this would have called for additional 
outlay for public utilities, street development 
and so on. The federal government was not 
interested in additional expenditures for 
such purposes, so they arrived at a stalemate. 
This status continued down until the time 
that the government did turn it over to 
local control, although the attitude of the 


government, as early as 1948, was that this is 
America, Boulder City should be treated as 
America, and Boulder City citizens should 
be treated as Americans; Boulder City 
should be turned, just as soon as possible, to 
private and local control. In other words, the 
federal government recognized that they had 
been there for a purpose, that that purpose 
had been served and that now they, as a 
controlling factor, should get out and let the 
people be Americans and white men instead 
of Indians. 

On the other hand, there was a large 
segment of the population that were very 
complacent about the matter. In fact, they 
preferred the status quo. They were made up 
largely government employees—employees 
of the Bureau of Reclamation. Incidentally, 
the Bureau of Reclamation had by this 
time considerably expanded its interest 
and its activity in the Boulder City area 
by creation of divisional jurisdictions by 
the Department of Interior. Prior to that 
time, the Department affairs had been 
administered from Washington with a sub- 
office in Denver, but now they divided the 
country into districts. The Boulder Darn 
area which comprised parts of the southwest 
influenced by the contributions from the 
Dam, power, water, and so on, was known 
as Region Number Three. Boulder City was 
made the regional headquarters. They had 
jurisdiction over Interior Department affairs 
over all of southern Nevada, southern Utah, 
western Arizona, and southern California. 
The Department of Interior as a whole, in 
the Washington office and the Denver office, 
began activities to separate the jurisdiction of 
the city from federal control. The employees 
of the federal government liked, enjoyed, 
and appreciated, apparently, the low rent 
that they had to pay on government-owned 
homes. They not only enjoyed low rent, but 



Boulder City History and Education 


87 


they enjoyed the cost-free maintenance on 
the houses that they occupied. They were 
renovated quite thoroughly every year. They 
were people, too, who were subject to transfer; 
many of them were continually on the move. 

Another segment of the population was 
made up of what were known as the power 
contractors’ employees, Of course, the 
original Swing-Johnson bill that provided for 
the construction of the Dam also provided for 
the distribution of the power. 

It isn’t generally known, but before 
the federal government would give any 
consideration at all to the millions of dollars 
for that tremendous project, which was 
considered highly experimental, the city of 
Los Angeles, the Department of Water and 
Power, Southern California Edison Company, 
and other interested power users had to 
underwrite the cost of the entire project. In 
other words, they had to guarantee that they 
would buy power enough to pay off the cost 
of the project, with interest, in fifty years. So 
they took over the responsibility of power 
distribution. 

There were a number of agencies to 
receive a portion of the power. There were the 
states of Arizona, and Nevada; each was to 
receive 18-3/4 percent of the power generated. 
Then the city of Los Angeles, Department of 
Power and Water that I have just mentioned, 
the Southern California Edison Company, the 
Metropolitan Water District were all agencies 
in southern California, Well, the Department 
of Power and Water for the city of Los Angeles 
and Southern California Edison Company 
were named as power contractors. They took 
a contract with the federal government to 
actually generate and distribute the power. 
So they constituted another segment of the 
society that went to make up Boulder City. 
They were also a segment of the society that 
was very complacent. They were Californians, 


in employ, anyway. They were influenced by 
their employers. Their employers were very 
professional; they were not there to dominate 
the government or the administration of 
Boulder City, so they virtually kept a hands- 
off policy. In the final analysis, it was just the 
relatively few people engaged in distributive 
and service industries and the government 
officials in Washington that were interested 
in making that separation. 

I think it was in 1948 that the federal 
government instituted an independent 
research study on the Boulder City 
administration, with a view to effecting 
that separation. If you don’t have a copy of 
the study and report in your library, you 
should have it. They retained the services of 
Dr. Henry Reining, Jr., of the University of 
Southern California, and it provided a very 
fine research project for his office and the 
students of city management. They came up 
and spent quite a lot of time here, analyzing 
all aspects of the city and city affairs and 
filing a report and recommendations and 
so on. 

That move toward the separation required 
a full twelve years from the time that it was 
originally instituted until they were able 
to carry on through. In the meantime, 
the Department of Interior or Bureau of 
Reclamation brought in a professional city 
manager for the purpose of aiding in making 
that transition. With his help, citizens of 
the community were organized into charter 
committees, planning commissions and 
so on. I had the privilege of serving for 
a number of years on the City Planning 
Commission, and was named to the Charter 
Commission. But right at that time I began 
having trouble with what the doctor said was 
heart trouble, and I was hoping to get out of 
everything that I was in and didn’t stay on 
through to complete this assignment. 



88 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Anyway, the charter was written. It was 
accepted by the people and the official date, I 
think, of the transition, was January 4, 1960. 
Then the federal government turned over to 
the city the land that was occupied by the city, 
with several thousand additional acres around 
for growth and expansion. They also provided 
the city with a block of power and water in 
exchange for the services which the city would 
perform for the established agencies of the 
federal government, including two offices of 
the Bureau of Reclamation, the regional office 
and the local project office, the Bureau of 
Mines, and any other government agency that 
might be there. 

Following the administration of Simms Ely, 
the early dynamic City Manager of Boulder 
City during construction days, the direction 
of city affairs under the overall jurisdiction of 
the Interior Department was in the hands of 
Gray Boynton who had been classed as City 
Engineer. In fact, as I recall, he continued in that 
capacity, directing the affairs of the community, 
supervising the managerial aspects of it. It 
seemed like under the government jurisdiction, 
most of the problems had to do with, or were 
related anyway, to the engineering features. 
In that office, and serving as the nearest thing 
to a city manager, Mr. Boynton had quite a 
responsibility. In some aspects, you might 
say, he was neither fish nor fowl. In the social 
responsibilities, he had little authority, but 
I don’t know if it would have been possible 
under the circumstances to have found anyone 
that was better qualified for that assignment. 
He was a very patient man, a scholar, an 
understanding man. He just fit into that about 
as well as anyone ever could. 

Following Mr. Boynton, and during the 
period when we decided that we were going 
to be separated from the federal government, 
they brought in a professionally trained city 
manager for that assignment. 


I would like to make mention of a 
number of people who had a lot to do with 
the direction that the city took during that 
time. There were some very outstanding 
men representing the federal government 
concerned, however, more with the actual 
operation and direction of the Dam and 
powerhouse and the regional office. 

I have in mind first, Mr. E. H. Moritz. Mr. 
Moritz was a career man with the Bureau of 
Reclamation. He had worked on a number of 
similar projects, a man of outstanding training 
and experience and judgment. He came in, as 
I recall, as manager of the project. He was 
advanced from there to regional director. 
When he became regional director, he was 
succeeded by C. R Christensen, another 
man of very fine intellect and judgment. Mr. 
Christensen was succeeded by U. R. Douglass. 
Mr. Douglass always insisted that his name 
was spelled with two “s’ s”. Incidentally, both 
Mr. Christensen and Mr. Douglass were 
members of our school board for a number 
of years an additional contribution to the 
community. Mr. Douglass, being the last one 
of those mentioned and active right up during 
the period of transition, gave a lot in subtle 
direction and suggestion to the course that 
was taken. 

Another man whose judgment I valued 
very highly was Bruce Eaton. Bruce Eaton 
at that time was superintendent of city 
maintenance, and a man who just seemed 
to sense the right thing at the right time. 
Although his judgment wasn’t always accepted 
by everyone, he made a big contribution not 
only what he was able to do for the city, and for 
the schools, but also for the foresight that he 
seemed to have in organizing for the change. 
He was a member of the city council during 
the period of transition. 

In more recent times, Boulder City has 
been having troubles that I think are quite 



Boulder City History and Education 


89 


common to any community in getting 
organized, failing to meet the demands 
of everyone. It is just impossible to meet 
those demands because as an independent, 
incorporated city, it is young. It is also plagued 
with various socialistic institutions. That is, 
the city is the owner of the real estate, the city 
is the owner of the power, it is the owner of 
the water. Everyone is afraid to make an overt 
move for fear it will be the wrong move; that 
is, so far as releasing real estate, or spending 
money, and so on. 

The land on which Boulder City is 
built, the land which had been leased to the 
occupants of Boulder City by the federal 
government, had been turned to the city. 
The city made it available for purchase to the 
lessors, so they came up also with a pretty 
good-sized bank account. The city council was 
saddled with the responsibility of meeting the 
demands for growth and expansion in that 
city. With those responsibilities, came control. 
Hence, there have been factions develop 
among the citizenry as a result. 

At the time of incorporation, the 
community separated itself entirely from 
the government. The city council now 
brought in its own professionally trained 
city manager, Curtis Blythe, and Mr. Blythe, 
of course, was in a position where he found 
it difficult to please anyone and very easy to 
displease everyone. Mr. Blythe’s services were 
terminated after four years. 

Another city manager, also professionally 
trained, was brought in, William Cotrell. He 
found himself in a similar situation. The city 
council was divided in their attitude toward 
him. Whether by design or whether it was 
just coincidental, when the two councilmen 
who were strongly in favor of Mr. Cotrell 
were out of town, an emergency meeting 
was called by the other three to immediately 
terminate the services of Mr. Cotrell. Andy 


Mitchell, one member of the commission, 
was in Logan, Utah, going to summer school. 
Robert Broadbent, a pharmacist in Boulder 
City, and the other member, was out on 
vacation. They were given twenty-four hours 
notice of the meeting, but they got back for 
the meeting, and it was quite a wide-open 
town forum. It was indicated that the calling 
of the emergency meeting for this particular 
purpose was contrary to provisions of the 
charter, so a meeting was called for the next 
evening in order to make it legal. The whole 
town turned out. 

I am not going to go into the details, but 
anyway, in the long run, the city managers 
services were terminated. There were enough 
incensed people in the community that they 
petitioned for a recall of the mayor. They 
held the recall election, but the mayor was 
endorsed by the majority of the people. 

The incense in the community came as 
a result of the approach to the firing of the 
manager rather than to the action. It was 
recognized that it was in the power of the city 
council to fire the city manager at any time, 
but they felt that it should have been done 
open and above board when all of the city 
council were present. Anyway, as a result of 
that recall, Andy Mitchell eventually resigned 
from the city council, feeling that he was not 
representing the interests of the people. They 
are going ahead at the present time under 
a new city manager, but with the same old 
problems plaguing them. 

One very interesting aspect of the social 
life of Boulder City, setting it aside and 
making it quite distinctive, I think, has been a 
continuation of the policy that was instituted 
by the federal government, the Department 
of Interior, and Simms Ely, of keeping the 
city free of liquor. Of course, when Simms 
was in control, the sale of any alcoholic 
beverage was restricted in conformance to 



90 


Elbert B. Edwards 


the national policy on prohibition. But when 
the Prohibition Amendment was loosened 
by the introduction of 3.2 percent beer, and 
it was recognized that it was not necessarily 
intoxicating, Boulder City was was opened to 
3.2 percent beer. It was otherwise kept entirely 
free of hard liquor, primarily by the wishes 
of the people. The people generally felt that 
if they wanted liquor, they could get it, but 
they had seen Boulder City grow up without 
the influence of the local dispensary of that 
commodity. They felt that it was a good thing 
for the community, it was a good thing for 
particularly the younger generation, the rising 
generation, school youngsters and so on, so 
they kept it free. 

There was never any request of the 
federal government for substantial change 
in their policy on liquor. There may have 
been requests for licenses, but the federal 
government, in any case, refused to issue any 
permits. When the city was separated and 
incorporated, the great majority of the people 
were still adamant that hard liquor should not 
be sold in Boulder City, and that provision was 
written into their charter. Even the majority 
of the people wanted to go beyond that, and 
have written in by the federal government a 
deed restriction on the land that would be 
turned to the people. But, while I think that 
was given consideration by the courts, it was 
felt that it would be very poor national policy; 
it would be un-American; people should 
have the privilege of deciding for themselves 
rather than have it foisted on to them from 
Washington, 0. C. In any case, the city charter 
at the present time carries the provision that 
there shall be no hard liquor sold in Boulder 
City. So the sale of liquor is still limited to 
beer. 

Further, another interesting aspect is the 
freedom of Boulder City from the wide-open 
gambling that is so typical and characteristic 


of the rest of Nevada. Under the jurisdiction 
of the federal government, again the Bureau 
of Reclamation, they refused to grant any 
licenses or grant any leases for business 
purposes that did not carry restrictive clauses 
forbidding gambling. So we came up to the 
chartering aspect of it, and again the people 
were proud of the fact that they were one 
community that was free of gambling. They 
felt again a meritorious influence on the 
younger generation particularly. It had been 
debated for a long time. We had seen the 
economic advantages that had come to Las 
Vegas, particularly the “Strip,” but I think 
that most of them felt that they were not in a 
position to compete with the “Strip.” Anything 
that they might do would be of a second-class 
nature, and would actually constitute more of 
a problem for them than a blessing. So again, 
the city charter prohibits granting of licenses 
for gambling. Boulder City is one town in the 
state that doesn’t have as much as a single slot 
machine. 

In reminiscing on the social developments 
of Boulder City, people generally look to 
Boulder City as being something of the ideal 
community that the Interior Department 
originally sought to build. However, people, 
I think, are still people. There has been a lot 
of speculation as to the effect of the social 
nature of the community from the training, 
the growth, the development of teenagers, 
and school children generally. We have had 
a very delightful situation in Boulder City in 
that I think that officials to a great extent have 
been freed of fighting those problems; but I 
don’t mean to say, either, that they have been 
entirely free of them. 

I have been associated, of course, with 
the younger generation in Boulder City over 
a period of twenty-three years in my capacity 
as a school administrator, and we still had 
problems, regardless of the nature of the 



Boulder City History and Education 


91 


school or the community. Youngsters still had 
to experiment with liquor in Boulder City. 
They were able to get around the law, and get 
beer. Of course, again, it was a minority, but 
I think that regardless of the community that 
you are in, the major influence on the morals 
of the young people are the morals that are 
taught and inspired in the family, rather than 
the laws and rules of the community. We noted 
repeatedly that morals cannot be legislated as 
was demonstrated, I think, during the period 
of prohibition. I think that applies also to 
youngsters as well as to the older generations. 
I spent a number of years in educational work 
in Las Vegas before going to Boulder City. 
I was well acquainted with the youngsters 
there and I feel, I have felt right along, that 
the major dominant influences were those of 
parental training, family training, rather than 
legislation. Education in Boulder City 

I would like now to discuss the educational 
problem of Boulder City. As they set it up, it 
was to be an ideal town. They had it planned 
by a community-planning architect, that 
I think that officials to a great extent have 
been freed of fighting those problems; but I 
don’t mean to say, either, that they have been 
entirely free of them. 

I have been associated, of course, with 
the younger generation in Boulder City over 
a period of twenty-three years in my capacity 
as a school administrator, and we still had 
problems, regardless of the nature of the 
school or the community. Youngsters still had 
to experiment with liquor in Boulder City. 
They were able to get around the law, and get 
beer. Of course, again, it was a minority, but 
I think that regardless of the community that 
you are in, the major influence on the morals 
of the young people are the morals that are 
taught and inspired in the family, rather than 
the laws and rules of the community. We noted 
repeatedly that morals cannot be legislated as 


was demonstrated, I think, during the period 
of prohibition. I think that applies also to 
youngsters as well as to the older generations. 
I spent a number of years in educational work 
in Las Vegas before going to Boulder City. 
I was well acquainted with the youngsters 
there and I feel, I have felt right along, that 
the major dominant influences were those of 
parental training, family training, rather than 
legislation. Education in Boulder City 

I would like now to discuss the educational 
problem of Boulder City. As they set it up, it 
was to be an ideal town. They had it planned 
by a community-planning architect. They 
made arrangements for a business section, 
they anticipated need for parking spaces. 
They tried to foresee all need for anything in 
the way of accommodations, improvements, 
and so on, except that after they had got the 
town opened up during the summertime, 
and as September rolled around and time 
approached for school to open, people 
began to ask, “where are the schools?” The 
government had made no provision for 
schools. 

Schools were a state responsibility. 
They turned to the state. Yes, it was a state 
responsibility. The state will do it, if it is 
possible to collect sufficient taxes. The state 
had been trying to collect taxes on the 
reservation out there, and Six Companies, 
Inc., were the only ones that had only taxable 
property at all. But Six Companies, Inc., said, 
“Well, we can’t be taxed; we are an agency 
of the federal government.” The federal 
government owned the land, and so only 
personal property and construction property 
could be taxed. So the state was helpless until 
they fought a case through the courts and the 
courts granted them the right to collect taxes 
on the reservation. It took a couple of years, 
and so the school year opened, and there was 
no provision at all for the schools. 



92 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Parents recognized the need and the 
emergency, and there were those who were 
qualified to teach. They offered their services 
for a fee. The parents paid the tuition on 
each youngster. In fact, I think for a while 
they were holding school in a tent, until Six 
Companies made available a couple of their 
dwelling houses. The parents manufactured 
some backless benches. The kids got such 
books as they had, and instruction was given. 
That applied only to the elementary grades 
because, as we noted before, all of southern 
Clark County outside of Educational District 
No. 1, was a part of Educational District No. 
2, with high school facilities provided in Las 
Vegas. 

While they had separated this particular 
sector, the Boulder Canyon Project 
Reservation, from Clark County supervision 
and jurisdiction, Miss Frazier recognized two 
things: that the kids needed education and 
that in all probability, the state would win the 
case in the courts. So the Educational District 
No. 2 made arrangements for transporting 
the high school youngsters to the Las Vegas 
Eligh School. They opened up a bus service 
and brought those youngsters in. 

The second year it had, of course, been 
recognized by the Bureau of Reclamation 
and the government, that even if the state 
won the right to collect taxes on personal 
property they still would be in no position 
to build a building. The building would call 
for the selling of bonds. Bonds could be sold 
only on the basis of real estate, and real estate 
was definitely owned by the United States. So 
the Bureau of Reclamation presumed to go 
ahead and build the building, such as it was. 
Well, basically, it was a good building. They 
then dedicated it for the kids. Six Companies, 
Inc., recognized a responsibility in providing 
a schooling for their employees, if they were 
going to retain worthwhile employees. That 


is, they recognized the family man as the 
more responsible type; in fact, they had to 
have them. So they put up a sum of money 
to provide teachers’ salaries. They turned 
the administration over to Sums Ely, the city 
manager. 

Simms Ely, incidentally, is another very 
striking, very strong, very capable personality. 
They used to speak of him during Dam 
construction days as “the Hitler of Boulder 
City’’ He had the assignment by the government 
to keep the town clean. When a foreman 
showed up in town drunk, that foreman was 
exiled from the community. Six Companies 
came to Ely, “We have to have the foreman.” 
“Well, that is too bad, you can’t have him; he 
can’t come back on this reservation. And he 
didn’t. Six Companies found a new foreman. 

Ely had been a newspaper editor in Arizona 
for a number of years and just as a sidelight, he 
had an interesting hobby; that of historian on 
the Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition 
Mountains. He wrote a history of it after many 
many years of research. It is a very interesting 
little volume. It is just a little background on 
one side of his nature. He was not a popular 
city administrator with the people, because 
he had been given a mandate by the federal 
government. They chose a man whom they 
felt could control the situation that night arise. 

The state of Nevada had permitted the 
federal government to withdraw several acres 
immediately contiguous to the Dam site, and 
Mr. Ely, as manager, set up an inspection 
station on the border, in Railroad Pass, and any 
car that entered was subjected to an inspection. 
At that time, I don’t believe trunks had become 
standard equipment on automobiles, but they 
would look under the seat and wherever else 
they thought there might be any liquor hidden 
away. (I might say that there is one back way 
into Boulder City, known as Bootleg Canyon. 
It is a pass through the hills and not an easy 



Boulder City History and Education 


93 


pass, but if people did want to do a little 
smuggling, they came in by of Bootleg Canyon. 
Of course, as long as people are people, that 
thing happens). 

So Ely selected the teachers. He had the 
problem, however, of standards. There were 
no standards to go by. He had the question 
of certification. There was no provision for 
certification of teachers, and so there was no 
provision for the recognition of the work that 
was done. By 1933, the courts had passed on 
the right of the state to collect taxes. They 
recognized that right, so the county assessor, 
Frank De Vinney, went in and made the 
assessments and got things rolling. 

Things weren’t that easy, though, because 
taxes are collected ayear behind the assessments. 
Here was a state responsibility, and the state 
went ahead and made its apportionment. I 
think they got emergency loans and carried 
on under a school district. They organized a 
school district, as I recall, in October of 1933. 
They employed the principal of the elementary 
school whose name was Robert 0. Weede, and 
they began operating with state supervision, 
state accreditation of teachers and state 
recognition of the work done. 

Mr. Weede, I think, was a very tine 
educator. I don’t know all of the ramifications 
that entered into it, but it seems that it was 
not a question of his work or his achievement; 
it was a question of the bridge parties and 
community cliques. Both he and his wife were 
avid bridge players and they got into a clique. 
I think probably, from what I have been able 
to glean, the troubles that grew out of it were 
probably more her fault than anyone else’s. 
Anyway, there was conflict between Weede and 
one member of the school board particularly. 
It was a Mrs. Ida Browder Hancock. 

Mrs. Ida Browder Hancock was another 
very interesting and strong character. She 
was, I think, a naturalized citizen from 


Austria. Anyway, she was a descendent of 
early Austrian nobility. She looked the part, 
she dressed the part. She was a nice person, 
if you were on her side. She was interested in 
the community. She was a business woman 
there; she operated a cafe. She had a number 
of buildings there. In fact, I guess, she owned 
or had a lease on most of one of the blocks 
at one time. She got crossed up with Weedes. 

There was another school board 
member, H. 0. Watts a strong man who 
was superintendent of the power company, 
California Electric Power Company, that 
brought the power in, providing the power 
for the construction of the Dam. When power 
generation began, they were one of the sub 
power contractors. He supervised some of 
the lines that transmitted power to California. 
Again, some of spouses entered into the 
picture. Anyway, these two were instrumental 
in getting Weede moved out. A recall election 
was held. Mrs. Hancock was moved out, Watts 
was retained. So, when I went out there, the 
board was made up of Otto Littler, an office 
engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation; H. 
0. Watts, who was a superintendent for the 
California Electric Power Company and 
affiliated also with the Southern California 
Edison Company; and Andy Latham, who 
had been appointed. At that time Mr. Latham 
was an assistant superintendent for the 
Department of Water and Power in the city 
of Los Angeles. 

They were all executives themselves. 
When they interviewed me, they told me what 
they wanted, what they expected, what they 
would do, what they expected me to do. They 
expected to give me all the help they could 
in setting up the budget. I was to prepare for 
them a statement of policy and procedure for 
their approval, and I was to run the school on 
the basis of the policies they approved. That 
is the way it was as long as we had them in 



94 


Elbert B. Edwards 


office. They were thoroughly professional in 
their relationships with me. 

We did have, though, a financial problem, 
because as long as Six Companies was 
operating there and at full blast, they had 
several million dollars worth of equipment 
that was subject to taxation. So the schools 
operated, and were probably—after they got 
going for a few years—more affluent than the 
schools in Las Vegas. The evaluation rate per 
pupil was considerably higher than it was in 
Las Vegas. That lasted very briefly. 

They did have a building problem, 
because the enrollment was much in excess 
of what the one building had been designed 
to take care of. That was only temporary, 
too, because the construction of the Dam, 
rate of construction, exceeded the original 
expectations and plans. They cut short the 
period that was allowed, I think, by three 
years, so construction time was five years 
instead of eight. So as construction of various 
parts was completed, Six Companies would 
move out their equipment, the valuation 
would decrease, and the income for schools 
would go down. So by 1938, the school district 
was virtually bankrupt. That was probably 
another of the factors that tended to upset the 
conditions and the administration. 

The school board appealed to the Nevada 
Congressional delegation for help. Jim 
Scrugham was in Washington at the time; he 
went to Congress in 1933, a very influential 
man in Congress. He was an engineer by 
training. He had come to Nevada as a teacher 
of engineering at the University. He graduated 
from there to become state engineer. He had 
become, of course, after that, governor. He 
had been defeated for the second term as 
governor, but had won a place in Congress. 

He had been given an assignment on the 
sub-committee on appropriations for Interior 
Department, so he was right in there where 


he was writing government expense policy 
on Boulder City. He worked in a provision 
whereby the government would recognize 
its obligation to the extent of 50 cents per 
day for each child attending the Boulder City 
schools who was a dependent of a government 
employee. That put Boulder City back in an 
operating sphere. 

Furthermore, of course, the population 
had dropped way down. There was surplus 
space in the school building. Las Vegas, on 
the other hand, was growing. They would be 
glad to let Boulder City elementary school 
take care of some of the Boulder City high 
school students. They wrote a contract with 
the Boulder City elementary school to provide 
ninth grade instruction for those youngsters. 
In, I think about 1937, the ninth graders went 
to school out there. In 1940, we took care of 
the tenth graders;' 40 and' 41, we took care of 
the eleventh graders. In '41 and '42, we had 
a twelve-year school, and in '42, we had our 
first graduating class. 

With the addition of the high school 
students, there came agitation for additional 
facilities to provide for special needs. The 
school needed a gymnasium, a shop and 
home economic facilities, science facilities 
and so on; facilities that could not be provided 
by the building that had been originally 
constructed. So again, Jim Scrugham was 
instrumental in getting an appropriation of 
some $75,000— at least it grew to that. A 
building was planned by the local Bureau 
of Reclamation engineers, and construction 
began in 1940. 

They had it under way when I went out 
there. In fact, Otto Littler had brought the 
plans to me as Deputy State Superintendent 
for my approval. If I had been able to look at 
the school building plans as objectively then 
as I can now, that is, with a little knowledge 
of schoolhouse planning, Id have scratched 



Boulder City History and Education 


95 


them to pieces in a hurry. Anyway, they went 
ahead and let a contract for the building of it. 

I can tell you best probably the type of 
building it was by quoting from a statement 
by a specialist on school building facilities. 
During the war, Boulder City again had a 
growing spurt and we ran woefully short 
on school building accommodations for 
students. So we made application to the 
War Production Board for permission to 
build a building. Well, the War Production 
Board sent out an investigator known as a 
specialist on schoolhouse facilities from San 
Francisco and he made his report. He gave a 
very comprehensive coverage of the facilities 
we had and wound up something like this, 
“Existing facilities consist of one sixteen-room 
school building, which should be occupied 
exclusively by the elementary grades, and an 
adjacent monstrosity consisting of a misplaced 
airplane hanger, designed apparently by a dam 
builder interested in basketball, with five 
additional rooms tacked on as though an 
afterthought, designed to serve none of the 
modern objectives of modern educational 
program. 

It was designed by dam builders, and 
it was built about like the Dam was. The 
Dam is about as much steel as it is concrete. 
Those walls—and I have seen them try to cut 
into them. Contractors have invariably lost 
money in trying to cut through the walls for 
remodeling purposes. 

I remember one time after we had become 
a part of the county system, the county 
had some very thorough and skilled and 
knowledgeable maintenance men. One was 
Jim Griswold. Jim came out one time for the 
purpose of providing some sound insulation 
on the interior of the gymnasium. I said to 
him, “Jim, how are you going to tack that 
insulation on to that wall?” “Oh,” he said, 
“Concrete nails.” I said, “If concrete nails won’t 


penetrate it, what will you do?” “Well, they 
will.” I said, “Just what if they won’t. What 
will you do?” “Oh, we’ll use (I don’t know 
what he called it, what the technical name for 
it is. Anyway, it is an explosive gun that will 
penetrate most anything).” I said, “Well, what 
if that won’t penetrate that concrete?” “Aw,” he 
says, “It is preposterous.” 

He got some concrete nails. “Well, let’s go 
hammer them in.” He looked at me kind of 
quizzically, and he took the nails and a good 
hammer and went to try them out. He gave 
the nail a good rap to make sure he would 
demonstrate to me that they would penetrate. 
The concrete nail, designed to penetrate good, 
substantial, fully-cured concrete just bent 
over, made no penetration at all. He had just 
as much success in penetrating the wall with 
the gun. It was impossible to do anything 
with that at all. The concrete had been mixed 
according to the government specifications, 
and the Bureau of Reclamation had learned a 
lot about concrete since they built Lahontan 
Dam (I have noticed that that is deteriorating; 
the concrete itself). Anyway, that is the 
nature of the construction of the walls of that 
gymnasium building and they are two feet 
thick in places. 

The company that came in to build that 
building went broke before the walls were up 
and there was quite a little trouble in getting 
it finished, but the bonding company had to 
come through and stand the contractor’s loss 
on this building. When the time comes to 
move that building out of the center of that 
town, they are going to have a problem. 

With the coming of World War II, of 
course, even in anticipation of World War 
II, the government knew that Hoover Dam 
was to be a very strategic part of our defense 
and they began building, in 1941, a military 
police camp in Boulder City. That in itself 
contributed to a large percentage increase in 



96 


Elbert B. Edwards 


population and in student enrollment. That, 
in turn, increased our need for additional 
school facilities. 

I have already noted that we had made 
application to the War Production Board for 
permission to build. We had had so much 
dissatisfaction, however, in the buildings 
that had been provided. The one that I have 
just discussed was wasted money because 
of inadequate planning. We knew that we 
would want to build for permanency. The 
Bureau of Reclamation indicated that they 
would go along to make the money available 
for the building. The War Production Board 
recognized and acknowledged that we were 
in need of the facilities, and they approved 
limited construction. 

They would authorize, I think, twelve 
additional classrooms; no provisions at all 
for special facilities such as a gymnasium, 
shops, and so on, that we would so desperately 
need. So the school board decided that 
rather than take just what they would get, 
they would prefer to get by on emergency 
facilities—because it would still remain only 
on emergency until the war was over—on 
the gamble that they could get something 
later that could be built on a permanent 
community-need basis. 

So we began looking around for emergency 
school rooms that would satisfy our need. 
We occupied the basement in the Episcopal 
Church. We took over a basement in the 
Grace Community Church, and made two 
school rooms there. We utilized the basement 
of the LDS church. Then as opportunities 
presented themselves, in order to get out 
of the various restricted confines of those 
facilities, as the military camp was evacuated, 
we picked up an occasional building from 
them, moved it onto the school grounds, 
adapted it for instructional purposes. We 
acquired a building from the American 


Legion that had been built and used by them 
for recreational purposes, and made that into 
six school rooms of various capacities. In such 
manner, we carried on our school activities 
until the war was over. Then, of course, we 
began to agitate with Congress again for 
appropriations and the necessary funds to go 
ahead with our project. 

At different times, various Congressional 
investigating committees would come to 
Boulder City. We never missed an opportunity 
to try to make contact with them to show 
them what our limitations were, and to 
try to sell them on our needs and on their 
responsibilities to meet those needs. On one 
occasion, there were three members of the 
Interior Subcommittee on Appropriations 
came in and we arranged a meeting with 
them. They were a hard-boiled crew, and they 
were not too receptive to the story that we told. 
I think that we did give them something to 
think about. At that time local school building 
construction by the United States government 
was foreign to their way of thinking. That is, 
there was one from Pennsylvania, one from 
Iowa, one from South Carolina. They had 
not encountered any situation comparable to 
ours. At the same time, they couldn’t see why 
the community couldn’t provide for its own 
buildings. I think probably their minds were 
closed to our problem. Anyway, we continued 
to work through our own congressional 
delegation, but by this time we had lost Jim 
Scrugham. We had Pat McCarran and Molly 
Malone in the Senate, and Charlie Russell in 
the House of Representatives. 

So I was in communication with Charlie. 
He was a personal friend of Ben Jensen of 
Iowa, who was a member of this subcommittee 
on appropriations. Charlie took it up with 
Jensen directly, and wrote back that he would 
recommend that someone come back and 
present the matter to them in their regular 



Boulder City History and Education 


97 


budget hearing session. So the board had me 
work up our case and go back and present it. 

I was very well received, much differently 
than I had anticipated from our experience 
with them when they were in Boulder City. 
They interrogated in great detail on a number 
of things, and particularly did they stress the 
possible influence of Communism in schools. 

After we got through with our session, 
Charlie Russell told me, “That is a really crucial 
problem here in the east; the infiltration of 
Communism into the schools.” We, of course, 
had absolutely none of it out here; it was 
foreign to our thinking. I was quite surprised 
that they placed such a stress on it. When I 
went in, they had indicated to me that they 
could give me about twenty minutes, but I was 
in there two hours and ten minutes. 

Then Pat McCarran also arranged for me 
to appear before the Senate Appropriations 
Committee. I told them my story, however 
much more briefly, because they were meeting 
as a larger body. Senator McCarran, I think, 
was more interested in just having me appear 
and indicate the problem, than to go into any 
detail, because he thought he had the influence 
to swing the committee vote. 

Anyway, the appropriation was approved. 
There was no specific amount, but it was 
indicated that a provision would be made for 
the construction of the necessary classrooms. 

There were two political entities concerned 
with the construction of the buildings; the 
Bureau of Reclamation, represented by the 
project, and regional offices of the Bureau of 
Reclamation, and the Boulder City School 
District. Incidentally, by this time, we had 
initiated state legislation that created another 
school district, the Boulder City Educational 
District No. 3, made up of Boulder City. 

The legislation was patterned after that 
which set aside Educational District No. 1, back 
in 1921, We had taken the matter up with the 


school board, Miss Frazier, and Educational 
District No. 2, and they had agreed that under 
the then current educational philosophy and 
school district organizational policy, it would 
be the thing to do to set up an independent 
school district. So we secured the legislation 
that made provision for Educational District 
No. 3. Our boundaries were coterminous 
with the Boulder City Elementary School 
District. Then through local, administrative 
steps, we unionized the two districts so that 
they were under the one school board and one 
administration. 

There were those two bodies, then, that 
were very vitally concerned; the school board 
interested in getting what it wanted from a 
strictly educational point of view, the Bureau 
of Reclamation by virtue of the fact that it was 
government money that was to be spent under 
its jurisdiction. We had both experienced 
embarrassment from the inadequate planning 
of previous years, but the Bureau insisted on 
providing their own architect. They had to 
do that under the government policy. But the 
school board was skeptical of a government 
architect who was more qualified in dam 
building, and so we appealed to the State 
Department of Education of California for help 
from their special division for schoolhouse 
planning. 

The Sacramento office recommended 
that we contact Charles D. Gibson, who was 
a field representative of the state division of 
schoolhouse planning. I described to him our 
situation, and invited him to come to Boulder 
City. He came up. We had arranged a meeting 
at which we had present representatives of the 
Nevada Department of Education, the Bureau 
of Reclamation regional office, the Project 
office, the Boulder City Board of Education, 
the government architects and the building 
specialist from California. All were concerned 
with the project, the planning and design. 



98 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Charlie Gibson knew his schoolhouse 
planning and he also knew human nature. 
The architect was a very fine old gentleman of 
an outstanding California firm; one that had 
done a lot of design work in that state. His firm 
had designed the City Hall of Los Angeles, the 
Union Depot and a number of comparable 
projects of that magnitude and importance. 
He had reason to be quite pompous. He 
was. Charlie Gibson won him over, and they 
worked beautifully together. They hurriedly 
agreed on a philosophy of school building 
design that was very revolutionary for Nevada 
at that time. It was 1948 when this planning 
was going on; 1949, when the building was 
constructed. It was designed and built with 
the minimum of ostentation and a maximum 
of convenience; designed for the country 
in which it was built to take advantage of a 
maximum of natural lighting, with absolutely 
no direct sunlight in the school rooms at all; 
designed for the most effective school room 
size and shape. Normally, in the traditional 
school the roan was designed to be thirty-two 
feet square by providing bilateral lighting. 

Well, we got the regular classrooms 
constructed along with office space, but 
we were still short a gymnasium and shop 
facilities. We would get those two years 
later. We were still short of athletic field and 
landscaping. 

By this time, we had several changes on 
the school board. II. 0. Watts and F. A. Latham 
were still with us when we created the Union 
School District. We had set up a five-man 
board instead of the three, and the government 
had added the director of the project office of 
the Bureau of Reclamation. That gave him 
jurisdiction over Boulder City operation and 
maintenance, so we had a very good friend in 
the city maintenance department. That city 
maintenance department had access to work 
crews and heavy equipment. The school board 


member-director was also the boss of the city 
superintendent of maintenance. So through 
their good offices, we wound up with the best 
football field in the area, the best track in 
the state, and a very beautifully landscaped 
schoolyard. 

When Maude Frazier decided that she 
was ready to retire, I got a telephone call one 
night from a member of their school board. In 
fact, it was the president of the school board 
who had given me a six-mile ride one night 
after I had had that long walk. He called me 
up and asked me if I would consider making 
application for the Superintendent’s job in 
Las Vegas. It was right at that time that we 
had this thing in the mill and I was having 
too much fun with it. Then, too, I felt I was 
building a system; I could see what I was 
doing; and I could see achievement, whereas 
Las Vegas was getting so big that it just didn’t 
appeal to me at the time. So I decided that I 
would stay on where I was. There were other 
factors that needed to be considered, such as 
the environment in which we were raising 
four boys. They were getting along very well at 
Boulder City, they were in wholesome social 
environment. So we stayed on. 

I have often wondered how wise I was 
in leaving Las Vegas in the first place. I have 
noted, when I first came to Las Vegas it was 
during the Depression period, but I had a 
good job, and as I looked around I had a lot 
of friends who were victims of the Depression. 
They had jobs, but they didn’t begin to compare 
with mine. They were driving grocery trucks 
and doing janitor work in grocery stores, 
serving as apprentice meat cutters, driving 
laundry trucks, or something of that nature. 
But as I look at those fellows now, those that 
were driving laundry trucks own a string of 
laundries, the apprentice meat cutter is the 
head of a chain of meat markets, and the 
grocery clerk is, of course, running a chain 



Boulder City History and Education 


99 


of grocery stores. Others have been pretty 
successful all along the lines that they have 
gone into, and are much more independent 
than I am. But then again, when I consider 
other factors, like my family and the pride 
and satisfaction I have in them, the possibility 
that had I done differently and accumulated 
a lot more in material wealth that my family 
relationships could be a whole lot different, I 
wouldn’t do things any differently. 

1942 and 1943 were difficult years. I guess 
it was in 1942, when I had quite a shock. The 
athletic instructor (who was also shop teacher 
and coach) came in and said that he had been 
offered a commission by the navy. We had a 
game scheduled in Ely that weekend. He said, 
“I have to be in Reno Thursday for my physical 
examination. I will take that, and then come 
across to Ely and supervise the game.” He 
said, “That is all I can do for you.” So I took 
the team to Ely, but that was the easy part of 
it. It was trying to find a replacement for the 
coach after that that was difficult. 

So I carried on for several weeks as 
elementary principal, city superintendent 
and part-time P. E. instructor. We got Gerald 
‘Hap’ Nellis, a former high school coach, who 
was working for the Bureau of Reclamation to 
go out on the field with the boys, work with 
them. Just a matter of two of three weeks 
after that, Lewis Pulsipher, the young fellow 
I had brought in as high school principal, 
came to me and said that he had accepted a 
commission in the United States Navy, and he 
was gone. So I took over the principalship of 
the high school too. Well, that is way things 
were going. 

As the country made ever increasing 
efforts in behalf of the war, our school 
problems increased. Men faculty members 
were at a premium. Married women, who, 
since the depression, had been denied regular 
teaching positions, were welcomed back to the 


profession. The unmarried teachers seemed 
to rush to get married and then followed 
their husbands to the army training camps. 
The war time uncertainty had its effect on 
the students. A general feeling of insecurity 
created unrest and disciplinary problems 
multiplied. In 1943, my former high school 
principal told me of the need for educators 
in the service so I applied for a commission 
in the navy, when I was taking my physical 
examination the doctor looked in my mouth 
and shook his head. “They will never take 
you with those dentures,” he said. A record 
of hayfever clinched their decision and my 
application was rejected. So I went back 
to school to fight the battles of shortages; 
teachers, equipment, supplies and school 
rooms. Everything but pupils. It seemed that 
the population explosion struck us in the 
school system prematurely. 

The schools, however, enjoyed the 
support and confidence of the people of the 
community throughout the war years and 
then on through the building years. The voters 
regularly elected strong people to the school 
board and the schools were recognized for 
the high standards and the quality of their 
graduates. This was particularly noticeable 
in relation to the schools of our neighboring 
states. 

The occupational pursuits of the Boulder 
City community brought a large number of 
employees from southern California. This also 
resulted in frequent student transfers to and 
from the metropolitan district in and around 
Los Angeles. Invariably the students who 
transferred to our schools were one full grade 
in achievement level behind the students 
of the same age in our schools. Conversely, 
transfers from our system into the California 
schools were advanced a full grade when 
being adjusted to their achievement level in 
the California system. 



100 


Elbert B. Edwards 


The newly arrived parents were generally 
aware of the differences existing between the 
school systems, and they usually expressed 
themselves as well pleased that their children 
were entering a more formal and conservative 
type training than was characteristic of 
the schools that followed the '' progressive 
philosophy 

During the war and post war years, 
activities of the national government had so 
increased over the country that more and 
more communities found themselves unable to 
assume the responsibilities of providing school 
accommodations for the increased enrollment 
occasioned by federal activities. The federal 
government recognized its obligations in this 
regard and adopted legislation to meet its 
responsibilities under the provisions of Public 
Taws 874 and 815. 

Inasmuch as these laws were designed to 
meet the needs of all schools with enrollment of 
federally-activated students, the federal aid to 
the Boulder City Schools was secured. Annual 
solicitations and special appropriations were 
no longer necessary. 

Throughout the years, however, state aid 
to the schools had been a perennial problem. 
Financing had been left largely to local school 
districts, and on the basis of local district and 
county taxes. Provision had been made for 
some state aid for the elementary schools, 
but the high school system had evolved 
through the years dependent exclusively on 
county and local district support. This left a 
great degree of disparity. There were counties 
with heavy concentrations of students and a 
correspondingly low valuation. Conversely, 
there were counties with large property 
valuations and relatively small student 
populations. Clark County was one of the 
former. Accordingly, as the population of Clark 
County increased, the pressure for constructive 


changes and equalization in the state financial 
also increased. 

The 1940’s witnessed an increase in 
professional interest throughout the state and 
an effective school administrators association 
was organized. Discussion of common 
problems resulted in proposals to the legislature 
for revision of the laws providing for state 
support to the schools. The administrators’ 
association also had the support of the parent- 
teacher associations. This was particularly true 
in the southern part of the state where new 
people were pouring into the area and were 
encountering many problems attendant to fast 
growth. At the meeting of the administrators, 
called to consider the financial problems facing 
the schools, the suggestions for increased state 
aid to the schools ranged from $200 to $1600 
per classroom unit. After some discussion, 
Ben Church, superintendent of the schools 
of Henderson, presented a letter and petition 
from the P. T. A. of his community in which 
the recommendation was made that the state 
adopt a minimum salary schedule of $2400. 

The suggestion left the administrators 
gasping. A natural conservatism had developed 
in the group through many years of financial 
stringency. A $2400 minimum salary was 
too much to be expected. After discussion, 
however Dr. Fred Traner, Dean of the School 
of Education at the University of Nevada, 
and a highly respected educational leader, 
offered a motion that the association adopt 
the recommendation of the Henderson P. T. 
A., and propose to the legislature that funds 
be made available at the next session of that 
body to provide a minimum teachers salary 
of $2400. The association endorsed the 
motion and then gave the movement its most 
enthusiastic support with the result that the 
legislature adopted the most liberal changes 
in school laws in its history. 



Boulder City History and Education 


101 


The post war inflationary changes, however, 
soon created demand for still greater aid to the 
schools. Each session of the state legislature 
was faced with new demands for increased 
aid. From these repeated requests came the 
demand for a comprehensive study and plan 
for meeting the needs of public education and 
for a master plan that would eliminate the 
annual emergency demands for more funds 
for operation. Peabody College of Tennessee 
was chosen to make the survey. The study and 
proposed plan, released in November of 1954, 
recommended an upgrading in the formula 
for financing the schools, and also made a 
revolutionary recommendation for the schools 
on a county-unit basis. The Peabody formula 
for finance and administration was adopted 
as a “package deal” by the following session of 
the state legislature. 

The new law provided a total revolution 
in school administration. Individual school 
districts were merged under the single 
administration of the county school district. 
The Boulder City Union School District became 
a small cog in the large and rapidly growing 
Clark County school system. The merger 
was made at a cost to Boulder City schools 
of a sense of individuality and independence 
in school affairs. A compensating factor, 
however, was found in a greater degree of 
financial security. The approaching separation 
of Boulder City from federal jurisdiction 
(achieved in 1960) would necessarily deprive 
the schools of the city of a large percentage of 
the federal aid that had been provided since 
1938. The newly created county district now 
provided a much broader base from which the 
individual schools would draw assistance. Only 
in this way could the schools be adequately 
financed. 

The transition to the new organization 
and administration was made without 


incident under the strong leadership of Dr. 
R. Guild Gray, the first superintendent of the 
new school district. I continued to serve in the 
Boulder City Schools as area administrator 
and principal of the Boulder City Junior- 
Senior High School until 1963. At that time 
Harley E. Harmon, a former pupil of some 
thirty-four years previous, offered me a 
position in the Frontier Fidelity Savings and 
Foan Association. So, after thirty-four years 
in the service of the schools of the state I 
resigned from the school system and accepted 
employment in the public relations and 
research department of the finance company. 




8 


The Modern LDS Church 


I have made mention previously of the 
early organization of the Mormon church and 
the influence of the church in the settlement, 
particularly of southern Nevada in which 
those various elements were made as part 
of the Dixie Mission, also known as the 
Southern Mission with headquarters in St. 
George, Utah. This relationship continued 
as long as St. George area was known as a 
mission. Eventually—and I can’t remember 
the date—the St. George mission was made 
into a full-fledged stake of the church, the 
stake being the religious administrative unit, 
the top local administrative unit, next to that 
of the church itself. 

The church is divided first into stakes, 
then the stakes are subdivided into the next 
administrative unit, known as the ward. So 
the Nevada communities became at that time, 
a part of the St. George Stake, and continued 
to be administered from that southern Utah 
community. They, in turn, were made into 
wards of the St. George stake. This continued 
until, I think, 1912, when distances and the 
growth in southern Nevada justified the 


establishment of a stake in Nevada. At that 
time, communities of Clark and Lincoln 
counties were organized into the Moapa 
Stake, with headquarters of the stake at 
Overton. Willard S. Jones was named as the 
first stake president. The stake at that time 
consisted of wards at St. Thomas, Overton, 
Mesquite, Bunkerville, Alamo, and Panaca. 
That organization continued for many years 
until Las Vegas began to grow, and there were 
enough church members who made their 
homes in Las Vegas to justify organization 
there. 

Las Vegas was first organized as a branch 
of the Overton ward. Then about 1924, it 
was made a ward with Ira J. Earl as the first 
bishop. Las Vegas, of course, was destined 
to grow beyond any of the other wards and 
about 1940, they organized the second ward. 
Then additional wards were organized quite 
rapidly until Las Vegas became the dominant 
community in the entire area, justifying the 
further subdivision into stakes. 

In order to eliminate the distance problems 
attendant to the administrative work spread 



104 


Elbert B. Edwards 


over two counties, the communities in 
Lincoln county were combined with some of 
the smaller communities in southern Utah. A 
new stake was made, known as Uvada Stake, 
and Moapa Stake became the Clark County 
organization, with headquarters at Las Vegas 
and Byron L. Bunker as the president of that 
stake. I might say that Willard S. Jones had 
served in this capacity as president of the 
Moapa Stake for, I think, twenty-eight years. 
Las Vegas continued to grow. Boulder City 
was made a ward of the stake about 1938, and 
Henderson was organized about 1942. 

Again, I am not sure of dates, but with 
the continued growth, the Moapa Stake 
was divided again and the Las Vegas Stake 
was created. There was a reorganization 
of the Uvada Stake, and Alamo became 
part of the Moapa Stake which was then 
made up of the communities of Overton, 
Bunkerville, Mesquite and Alamo. The Las 
Vegas Stake comprised the wards of Las Vegas, 
Henderson, Boulder City, Kingman, Arizona, 
and Needles, California. 

Then with continued growth of Las Vegas, 
there was another separation and the Lake 
Mead Stake was created, made up of four 
wards at Henderson, one in Boulder City, one 
in Kingman, and one in Needles, California. 
More recently, Las Vegas has been subdivided 
again, and still again, so that there are now 
three stakes in Las Vegas. So in the territory 
that originally comprised branches of the 
St. George Mission, and later part of the St. 
George Stake, and still later Moapa Stake, now 
there are Uvada, Moapa, Las Vegas, Las Vegas 
North, Las Vegas West, and Lake Mead stakes. 

I might also point out that I have noted 
a comparable growth over the entire state of 
Nevada. When I attended the University of 
Nevada in 1925, until 1929, the Moapa Stake, 
I think, was the only stake in Nevada. There 


was a fairly strong branch appended to the 
California Mission in Sparks, and another 
smaller branch in Reno. Since that time there 
has been created the Nevada Stake which has 
original headquarters at Ely. Now, I think that 
all of Nevada is organized; all communities 
are within stake organization. Within the area 
of western Nevada, there are now two stakes 
that I am sure of, Reno, and Mt. Rose. 

In spite of the many changes in the 
organization of the church for administrative 
purposes there have been no changes in the 
doctrine of the church as it was preached or 
adhered to when the church was originally 
founded. In this principle are encountered 
some of the basic philosophy and principles 
of the church. 

I might make mention, in order to 
clarify the problem, that the LDS people 
look upon their church, or their doctrine, 
as being a restoration of the doctrine and 
the organization that existed at the time of 
Christ. They take scripture as a basis for 
this; scripture, and also revelation—the 
scripture pointing to, and prophesying a way 
during what we know as the early Christian 
period. Then, of course, with the Protestant 
Reformation, Protestant groups are all off 
shoots of the mother Catholic church. In any 
case, the church was organized as a restoration 
of what had existed in its supposed state of 
purity as established by Christ. So the church 
feels that on that basis, there should be no 
changes from the basic doctrines. 

The doctrine that was taught by Joseph 
Smith, by Brigham Young, or by any other of 
the recognized church officials, is considered 
even today as basic church doctrine. The 
priesthood as it was organized by Joseph 
Smith is the priesthood which is active today. 
There has been to my knowledge no major 
change or refutation of any doctrine that 



The Modern LDS Church 


105 


was preached by any of those founders of the 
church, or any of those considered as prophets 
of the church. 

There have been modifications in 
adherence to doctrine or in policy, to conform 
to the laws of the land. For instance, one 
thing that is frequently cited is the policy 
of the church on polygamy. Polygamy was 
abandoned, not as a doctrine of the church, 
but in conformance to the laws of the land. 

A basic activity of the church, of course, 
is proselyting. In view of the fact that 
the doctrine is to the effect that we are a 
restoration of the Holy Gospel, it is felt that 
it is an obligation to preach that doctrine in 
conformance with the scriptures to “every 
nation, tongue and people.” So the church 
carries on a very active missionary service. 

While it isn’t mandatory in any sense of 
the word that the members serve on missions, 
every youngster, or every youth, who lives 
in accordance with the principles of the 
church to merit the opportunity to serve on 
a mission, is given that opportunity. That is, 
again, within limitations. For instance, when 
I speak of limitations; there is the limitation 
at the present time imposed by the church 
itself wherein we will not interfere with the 
draff policy of the United States. The United 
States government has recognized right along 
the policy of the church in that regard, and 
have been most cooperative in that. At the 
same time the church has recognized that 
they have an obligation to serve their country, 
and so they are not going to interfere with 
political responsibility. Otherwise, those who 
meet the standards of the church are given the 
opportunity for missionary service. 

The church is sending missionaries into 
every country in the world where relations 
are found compatible, particularly to the 
free European countries, South American 


countries, Central American countries. They 
are sending them into South Africa, and 
some to the Orient. They are also going into 
Japan and Korea. Missionaries are going out 
in numbers of about 6,000 a year. There are 
in the neighborhood of 12,000 of them out 
continually. Each one that is called is expected 
to serve anywhere from two to two and a half 
years. 

During recent years, their success has 
been really quite phenomenal. Most of the 
missionaries return with credit for anywhere 
from twenty to seventy converts during that 
period of time. Of course, their success is not 
always the same, either. In same of the strong 
orthodox countries of Europe, the people are 
very loathe to even listen to the doctrine. 




9 


My Experience with a “UFO” 


In 1953,1 had an opportunity to become 
casually associated or acquainted with John 
Goddard. John Goddard classed himself as 
an explorer. He was an adventurer. He had, 
just a short time previously, made a scientific 
trip the full length of the Nile River with two 
French scientists in kayaks. He had written the 
story for the National Geographic magazine. 
He was planning a similar trip and study 
of the Congo River, a trip which he made, 
incidentally, a few years later. He also was 
interested in getting a pictorial story on movie 
film of the Colorado River. On this Colorado 
River story, however, he was doing it more or 
less in segments, at the convenience of time 
and energy. 

On this occasion, he indicated to me that 
he wanted to study Havasu Canyon. Havasu 
Canyon is a tributary canyon to Grand 
Canyon, although it lies outside the Grand 
Canyon National Park, and is the home 
of the Havasu Indians. Some hundreds of 
years ago, they were forced, through tribal 
warfares, to take refuge down in the depths 
of this canyon, accessible only by trail. When 


he indicated that he wanted to see Havasu 
Canyon, and inasmuch as I had a few days 
available, I asked him to permit me to go 
along with him. 

We made the necessary arrangements. 
My second boy, Arthur, a youngster of about 
seventeen years of age at the time, was to go 
along with us. We phoned in advance to have 
an Indian meet us on the rim on a Saturday 
morning, with a packhorse to carry our 
duff le down. We would hike on down and 
explore as we went. 

So on a Friday afternoon, we drove by 
way of Kingman, out Highway 66 to Peach 
Springs. A little beyond, we turned off and 
took the road out across the mesa to the 
rim of the canyon. We traveled out through 
the cool of the evening and arrived there, 
possibly about eight o’clock, p. m. 

There was an old Indian who was also 
camping on the rim with his daughter. He had 
come up that evening preparatory to taking a 
party down into the canyon the next morning. 
We had a brief conversation with him about 
camp places, and fuel supply, and so on. We 



108 


Elbert B. Edwards 


went ahead and cooked our supper, whiled 
away a little time. 

Just shortly after ten o’clock, I was standing 
on my sleeping bag, and had kicked off my 
shoes just preparatory to turning in. I had 
the impression that I was facing north. All 
of a sudden, I became aware of a very bright 
star, directly in the north and only about 
two degrees above the horizon. I questioned 
my orientation. I looked up, however, and 
oriented myself by Polaris so I knew I was 
facing north. I commented to John Goddard, 
“John, what star is that up there?” 

Well, he looked and apparently he saw it 
was moving. He thought I was pulling his leg, 
so he called back, “That’s Betelgeues.” I knew 
he was pulling my leg then, so I looked closer 
and noted that it was moving and moving 
rapidly. In fact, it had grown tremendously 
in size just in the few seconds since I had 
called his attention to it. So my next comment 
was, “Well, that is a funny plane, with such a 
brilliant light in the cockpit and furthermore, 
no navigation lights.” 

This concentrated our attention all the 
more, and so we watched it closely. It was 
approaching fast. It had coming out of the 
north, verging off into the southwest. In less 
time than it takes to tell, it was presenting a 
longitudinal appearance to us, and instead 
of one light, there was a series of lights; 
tremendous sort of porthole-type light. And 
therein comes one of the peculiarities of the 
experience; that is, the nature of the light 
itself. 

It was a different light than anything I 
have ever seen or experienced. It was not an 
incandescent light as we know them, it wasn’t 
a neon light as we know them, it wasn’t a 
combustible light. Well, I have tried to analyze 
it many times since. If you look through a 
window, you see a light; it is a reflected light. If 


you see the source of light itself, it is generally 
just a pinpoint. I had the impression we were 
looking into the source of light itself, as into 
a fiery furnace. At the same time, the texture 
of the light itself was something I don’t have 
words or experience to describe. In any 
case, we were immediately aware that it was 
something entirely different from anything 
we had ever experienced before, and as “flying 
saucers” were very much in the news, we paid 
particular attention to it. 

It was a beautiful moonlight night. The 
moon was behind us, and more or less shining 
on it and I could make out a dim outline as 
of a cigar-shaped object around that series 
of lights. 

When Goddard became aware, when we 
began to get the longitudinal view of it and 
realized it was something entirely different, he 
said, “I am getting my binoculars.” He jumped 
over to the car, got his binoculars out and 
got them on it. He is a man that isn’t given 
to getting very excited, but he was excited on 
this occasion. He said, “I, I, I don’t believe it. 
I, I, I don’t believe what I see.” 

Flying saucers are generally reported as 
being absolutely noiseless. It was a quiet night, 
and I made it a point to listen for any possible 
sound. I thought I could detect a sort of a 
buzzing murmur. There was no relationship, 
however, to that of a combustion engine as in 
the case of a propeller-driven plane, and no 
roar, of course, of any jet. The thing seemed to 
glide very smoothly and evenly along with just 
that murmur, and, of course, the impression 
that the lights made. But it came and went 
much faster than the time it takes to tell it. 

After it was gone, of course, we discussed it 
at great length, talking about it from all possible 
angles of what we had seen and observed. I 
said to him, “John, what did you see through 
those binoculars?” He had a very fine pair 



My Experience with a “UFO 


109 


of glasses, but had had no time to pass them 
around, of course. “Well,” he said, “I still don’t 
believe it, but for all this world, a Buck Rogers 
spaceship.” “Well,” I said, “Did it have wings?” 
He said, “No wings, absolutely none.” “well,” I 
said, “Did it have fins or directional vanes or 
anything of that nature?” “No,” he said, “It was 
absolutely smooth.” 

My seventeen year-old boy was as much 
or more impressed by it than we were. He 
sensed that it was something out of this world, 
literally, and he lay awake most of the night, 
hoping that that thing would come back. 
There was no element of fear or concern in 
his thinking at all. 

The next morning, the old Indian that I 
mentioned came by our camp on his way out to 
catch his horses. We took occasion to ask him 
if he had seen anything strange the previous 
night. “Yes.” “Well, what did you see?” “Plane.” 
“Did this plane have any wings?” “No wings.” 
“What else can you tell us about it?” “Many 
lights.” “Well, can you tell us any more?” “Like 
a worm.” Well, I knew how the old boy felt, 
because he didn’t have words to describe what 
he had seen any more than I have to describe 
the nature of the light that shone from those 
huge portholes. 

Well, the next morning we went on down 
into the canyon and spent three or four days 
there. John ran into an archeologist down 
there who was doing some research, and 
he wanted to spend more time than I could 
devote. So I called my wife and told her to 
come out to the rim and pick us up. We went 
on home Tuesday. 

After getting home, I had occasion to call 
a friend in Las Vegas and mentioned to him 
this experience. He passed the word along to 
a newspaper reporter, and I had a telephone 
call that night. He wanted the story, and I 
gave it to him. The morning Sun came out 


with headlines: “School Superintendent sees 
Flying Saucer,” with quite a story. 

Well, I no sooner got to the office that 
morning than I got a call from Nellis Air 
Force Base. They wanted to know if I was the 
one who had reported seeing the unidentified 
flying object. “Yes.” Would I be available for 
an interview? Yes, I would be willing to tell 
them anything I could. 

Well, it seemed like they were out there 
almost before I had hung up. They had two 
fourteen-inch mimeographed sheets of 
questions, a questionnaire. They wanted to 
know everything: where, when, longitude, 
latitude, altitude, meteorological condition, 
lighting conditions, what we saw, the lights, 
the lighting effects, noise or sound, size. 

When they came to size, they said, “Well, 
how big was it?” I said, “I couldn’t say. It was 
dark, there was no way of telling how far out 
over the canyon it was or how high it was.” 
“Well,” they said, “Would you say it was ten 
or twelve hundred feet in length?” I said, “No, 
I don’t believe I would. I don’t believe what I 
saw was that long; that is, it didn’t impress me 
in that way.” “Well, would it have been 300 
or 400 feet long?” “Yes,” I said, “It could have 
easily been 400 feet long.” 

Well, sometime after that John Goddard 
came through again and stopped at the house. 
I put the question to him. I said, “There is one 
thing that we haven’t apparently touched on. 
John, how big was that darned thing?” He 
said, “Well, it is hard to say. It was dark. You 
couldn’t tell how far away it was or how high 
it was, but it was big.” I said, “Well, would you 
say it was 300 or 400 feet long?” “Oh,” he said, 
“the lighted portion was that big.” I said, “You 
mean to tell me there was more to it than was 
lighted?” Of course, it was only the lighted 
portion that I was able to see with the naked 
eye, with only the outline around the lights 



110 


Elbert B. Edwards 


visible. He said, “Oh, that was just a fraction 
of the length.” I said, “Would you say it was 
ten hundred or twelve hundred feet long?” 
“Oh, easily,” he said. Twelve hundred feet is 
the length of four football fields, for instance. 

I had received another questionnaire from 
another investigating organization, and they 
raised the question of the size of the porthole 
lights. They said, “How large an object would 
it take, extended at arm’s length, to cover the 
light, an object the size of a pea or an object 
the size of a dime?” Well, holding an object 
at arm’s length, I would imagine that possibly 
a pea would just about cover it. In the case of 
an airplane, an airplane window as viewed 
at what I would estimate that distance to be 
as against this porthole light would probably 
have appeared as small or smaller than a 
pinhead. Like a dot. 

During succeeding years I have read a 
number of books on flying saucers. I have 
read reports of reliable witnesses, airplane 
pilots, people of that nature. I have become 
pretty well convinced that we did have an 
actual sighting of what is generally termed 
an unidentified flying object. 

There have been objects of that type seen 
in all sections of the world. They have been 
viewed by thousands of people. There was 
one seen over Denmark, Belgium, Prance, 
and parts of Germany; seen by thousands of 
people. It was accompanied by the type of craft 
of which the flying saucer gets its name; that 
is, the oval or disc type generally known in 
UFO parlance as “scout ships.” In fact, one of 
them was reported that convinced me that this 
ship that I saw is referred to as the “mother 
ship.” One of them was seen over Culver City 
at one time, floating along. This hovered, and 
two of the scout ships were dispatched. They 
went out, flying around. Eventually they came 
back and were taken aboard, and this “mother 
ship” then just disappeared at terrific speed. 


A similar sighting was observed by 
pilots and passengers of the British Overseas 
Airways line, flying from Ontario to Labrador, 
preparatory to taking off over the Atlantic. 
This “mother ship” was observed some 
distance off to the left of the flight and it was 
also accompanied by a large number of “scout 
ships.” The crew of the airliner radioed ahead 
that there was an unidentified flying object in 
sight, described it, and a couple of jets were 
scrambled to come out to meet them and 
reconnoiter. When the jets were still a few 
minutes away, they radioed that they were 
approaching and would arrive in a matter 
of a few minutes. Immediately, according to 
this story, the scout ships converged onto the 
“mother ship” and just disappeared. Many, 
many stories of that type have been recorded. 

As I say, as I have contemplated the 
experience, and reviewed it, why, it has just 
answered quite a lot of questions in my mind. 
I am convinced that it is extraterrestrial, that it 
is dominated, controlled, by highly intelligent 
beings, that they have their eye on us. I 
sometimes even go so far as to accept them 
as answers possibly as to how this world was 
colonized with plants, animals and humans. 
There is no question in my mind but that 
they are real. 



10 


Summary 


In summarizing the factors that have 
influenced my life and the development 
of my philosophy, one of the dominant 
elements has been that of religion and 
religious training and the heritage passed on 
by my forebears who were in turn dominated 
by their chosen faith. As previously noted, 
religion had also been a dominant factor 
in the lives of my grandparents and great 
grandparents. All had been converted to 
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day 
Saints during the early formative years of 
that sect. All had followed the church in 
its various hegiras in search of religious 
freedom. All had moved west with the early 
migrations to the Rocky Mountain area. All 
of them, in turn, had been called by church 
authorities to settle and pioneer in frontier 
areas in the intermountain region. They had 
all been subjected to the rigorous life of the 
unbroken western wilderness in their fight to 
make homes and rear families. Under these 
conditions their religion and the principles 
of freedom for which they strove became a 
part of their every day life and thought, and 


were in turn inculcated into the thinking of 
their children. 

Basic to this thinking were the accepted 
teachings of a pre-.existent life, the purpose 
of this life, and the immortality of the soul, 
together with the means by which these 
various stages of existence were achieved, 
and the requirements for growth and 
development to reach the ultimate through 
these stages of existence. 

Man’s existence on the earth is considered 
a medium for the growth and development 
necessary to achieve an exalted state in eternal 
life. This growth is realized by overcoming 
the opposition that is a basic part of a divine 
plan. Another part of the plan, however, is 
the free agency with which man is endowed 
and through which he decides for himself the 
effort he will make to achieve the goals that 
are available to him. 

The free agency and the fight to overcome 
opposition is a philosophy similar to that 
presented by the eminent historian Arnold J. 
Toynbee. In his monumental work, A Study 
of History, he develops the thesis of challenge 



112 


Elbert B. Edwards 


and response as the motive forces which 
contribute to development and progress. He 
utilized adversity as the vehicle to present the 
challenges and to provide the stimuli for the 
exertion that produces excellence. 

The stimuli cited by Toynbee are also the 
stimuli sought and used by the church as 
material challenges for the earlier members. 
These adversities are identified as hard 
countries, new ground, blows, pressures and 
penalizations. The early Mormon settlements 
of southern Utah and southeast Nevada met 
the criteria remarkably well. The settlers 
arrived in a state of poverty. They faced the 
hostility of the local native Indians. The soil 
was virgin and unbroken, in many instances 
impregnated with alkali and sterile. The water 
also presented problems. During spring 
floods there was too much and it washed 
out their dams. During the summer drought 
there was too little and their crops withered. 
Insect hordes, disease and heat plagued and 
tested their physical as well as their moral 
and spiritual fiber. Through these trials of 
adversity basic values of life were forged and 
became real. True values and treasures found 
in giving life and service to fellow men, the 
virtues that are considered to be eternal rather 
than worldly. 

These doctrines and teachings also 
influenced political beliefs and economic 
activities and decisions. The belief in free 
agency led to the advocacy of restrictions 
on the powers of government. Moral duties 
and obligations stress self reliance and 
responsibility rather than the unrestricted 
dole and free relief. The significance placed 
on life and the dignity of the individual pleads 
for the need, the right and the responsibility 
of man to meet his own challenges, solve his 
own problems, pay for his own mistakes, and 
to grow and progress. 



Original Index: 
For Reference Only 


In order to standardize the design of all UNOHP transcripts for the online database, they have 
been reformatted, a process that was completed in early 2012. This document may therefore differ 
in appearance and pagination from earlier printed versions. Rather than compile entirely new 
indexes for each volume, the UNOHP has made each transcript fully searchable electronically. If 
a previous version of this volume existed, its original index has been appended to this document 
for reference only. A link to the entire catalog can be found online at http://oralhistory.unr.edu/. 



114 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Aaronic priesthood, 34-35 
Alamo, Nevada, 113, 157, 

160, 164, 166, 227, 

228 

Albanians, 130 
Albert (Indian), 64 
Allen, Frank, 157-167 
American Legion, 213 
Anderson brothers cafeteria, 
184-185 

Arden, Nevada, 140 
Arizona, 15, 191, 204 
Armenians, 130 
Ash Meadows, Nevada, 180 
Assessor, Lincoln County, 

119 

Atlantic ocean, 239 
Atomic Energy Commission, 
150-151 

Auditor and Recorder, 

Clark County 
Austrians, 206 


Beatty, Neva 

Beaver ,^Utah, 136 
Belgium, 239 

mett Pass (Nevada) , 

11 

Bennett Springs (Nevada), 
11 

Bird, Clarence, 175-176 
Black Angus cattle, 177 
Blythe, Curtis, 197 
Bootleg Canyon (southern 
Nevada), 205 

Boulder City, Nevada, 154, 
170, 171, 182, 183-225, 
227, 228 
Boulder Dam 

See Hoover Dam 
Box, Mr., 7 

Boynton, Gray, 194-195 
Boy Scouts, 32, 167 
Bray, Mildred, 172 
Brinley, Harold J. 

111-112, 150, 151 



Bristol Wells, Nevada, 179 
British Overseas Airways, 
239 

Broadbent, Robert, 197 
Bullionville, Nevada, 21, 
28-29, 45 

Bullionville Mill, 91 
Bunker, Byron L., 227 
Bunker, Edward, 3 
Bunkerville, Nevada, 140, 
227, 228 

Buol, Frank, 178-1" 
Bushhead (Indian), 11 


Cacljergounty, Utah, 19-20 
he\V&lley (Utah), 2, 19 
, Nevada, 23, 24, 

, 41, 42, 45, 69, 93, 
113, 114, 132, 134, 

136, 137, 142, 145-146, 

150 

California, 139, 191, 192, 
217, 221 

California Electric Power 
Company, 206, 207 
Cathedral Gorge state park, 
44-46, 115, 119 
Catholics, 143 

Cave Valley, Nevada, 179-180 
Cedar City, Utah, 136, 161 
Charleston mountains (Nevada) 
141 

Chen, Dr. 181-182 
Chevrolet car, 163 
Chicago, Illinois, 158, 178 
Chinese, 181-182 
Christensen, C. P., 195 
Church, Ben, 223 
Church, James Edward, 123-124 
Circuit Court of Appeals, 

U. S., 146 
Clark, Ed, 141-144 
Clark, Walter E., 116, 117 
Clark, William A., 24, 142 
Clark County, Nevada, 143, 
147, 150, 163, 172, 203, 
223, 225, 226 



Original Index: For Reference Only 


115 


C 


Clark County school 
district, 112 

Clark Forwarding Company, 
142 

Clover Canyon (Nevada), 

23 

Clover Valley (Nevada), 

3, 4, 10, 11-12, 

13, 18, 23, 24, 40, 

64, 93, 94, 175 

Clover Valley Creek 
(Nevada), 3 

Coaldale, Nevada, 174 

Colorado River, 9, 15, 
138, 139, 147, 167, 
187, 232 

Condor Canyon (Nevada), 

47 

Congo river, 232 

Congress, U. S., 208, 
213-215 

Connor, P. E. , G 
9 

Corn Cree 


bounty Clerk, Clark 
Sunty, 143 
Crittenden, Fort, 9 
Crystal Springs, Nevada, 
’ 180 

Culver City, California, 


George, 



Denver, Colorado, 191 
DeVinney, Frank, 205 
Dilworth, George, 117 
District Attorney, Clark 
County, 145 

Dixie College (Utah), 136 
Dixie Mission, 2, 3, 9, 
226 

See also St. 

Utah 

Dodge car, 149 
Douglass, L. 

Dyer, Nevada, 


(southern 
), 19, 40, 113 
lodge, Las Vegas, 

148 

Earl, Ira J., 227 
Eaton, Bruce, 196 
Education, California 
state department, 216 
Education, Nevada state 
department, 108, 171, 
174, 217 

Edwards, Arthur, 233, 236 
Edwards, Electa Jane Lee, 

1, 4 

Edwards, Eli, 38, 92 
Edwards, Esaias, 19-20 
Edwards, George L., 15, 18, 


239 


19, 

20- 

23, 44, 

45, 

48, 

Currieux, 

Jennie, 175 

50, 

51, 

52-54, 

61, 

63, 



75, 

80, 

94-95, 

96, 

100 


D 

101, 

, 110, 115, 

119 



Danes, 104 

Death Valley (California) 
178 

Dees, Fred, 176 
Defense, U. S. department 
187, 190 

Delamar, Nevada, 19, 21, 
148 

Delmue, Vera, 175 
Democrats, 189 
Denmark, 124, 239 


Edwards, George Washington, 
3, 4, 20 

Edwards, Grant, 96 
Edwards, Lizzie, 78, 79 
Edwards, Mary Reid, 136-137 
168, 236 

Edwards, Minerva Woods 

"Minnie," 14-15, 22-23, 
24-26, 30, 40-41, 49, 

50, 60-61, 62, 64-65, 

69, 70-72, 73, 74-84, 

89, 93, 98-99, 101, 120 



116 


Elbert B. Edwards 


Edwards, William H. "Cedar 
Bill," 4, 45, 50, 78 
Edwards family, 1-2, 4, 6 
El Dorado, Nevada, 140 
Elks lodge. Las Vegas, 148 
Ely, Nevada, 119, 220, 228 
Ely, Simms, 194, 198, 
204-205 

Engineer, Nevada state, 208 
English, 37 

Enterprise, Utah, 94, 101 
Enterprise Mill, 94-95 
Episcopal Church, Boulder 
City, 213 

Esmeralda County, Nevada, 
150, 172, 173 


Farnsworth, Dave, 145-146 
Federal Reserve bank, 

San Francisco, 143- 
Federation of Women's 
Clubs, Nevada s 
117, 156 


.24-125 

Bank of Nevada, 

:ate Bank (Las Vegas), 
143-144 
^ish Lake Valley (Nevada) , 
177-178 

Ford car, 43, 101, 102, 114 

France, 239 

Frazier, Maude, 107, 108, 

111, 117, 134-135, 

148-150, 152, 203, 216, 

218 

French, 130, 232 

French Consolidated mine, 

46 

Frontier Fidelity Savings 
and Loan Association 
(Las Vegas), 225 


George Peabody College for 
Teachers, 224 
Germany, 239 

Gibson, Charles D. , 216-217 
Godbey, Mrs. Earl, 45-46 
Goddard, John, 232-236, 

238 

Goldfield, Nevada, 148-149, 
Goodsprings, Nevada, 140 
Grace Community Church, 
Boulder City, 213 
Grand Canyon National Park, 
232 

Grant, Roy, 161, 

Gray, R. Guild, 

Greeks, 130 
Greenlanc 



amblin, William, 9 
Hamilton, Nevada, 21 
Hancock, Ida Browder, 

206-207 

Harmon, Harley, A., 144-145 
Harmon, Harley, E., 225 
Harriman, E. H., 24, 142 
Harrington, Mark, A., 45 
Harvard University, 151 
Havasu Canyon, 232-236 
Havasu Indians, 232 
Hearst, George, 142 
Henderson, Nevada, 223, 224, 
227, 228 

Henderson, Bert 147 
Henry ranch, 134 
Hiko, Nevada, 113 
Hoover, Herbert C., 189 
Hoover Dam, 78, 135, 153, 
168-170, 185, 186, 187, 
188-190, 191, 195, 204, 
208, 210, 212 
See also Boulder City 
Horsey, C. L., 147 


Gay, Sam, 147, 162, 164 
Genoa, Nevada, 148 
Gentry, Ted, 90 


Illinois, 8 

Imperial Valley (California), 
139 



Original Index: For Reference Only 


117 


I 


Indians, 4-5, 7-9, 

10-11, 13-18, 

64-67, 176-177, 233, 
236, 243 

Indian Springs, Nevada, 
140 

Interior, U. S. depart¬ 
ment, 190, 191, 193, 
194, 200, 208 

Internal Revenue, U. S. 
Bureau, 154 

Iowa, 214 

Irish Mountain (Nevada), 
10 

Italians, 130 


James (Indian), 64 
Japanese, 151 
Jasper (Indian), 64 
Jensen, Ben, 214 
Jersey cows, 48 
Jones, Willard S., 
226-227 


L7 
178 

A., 154-155 
Arizona, 228, 

Kirman, Richard, 172 
Knudsen, K. 0., 150 
Kyle family, 158 
Kyle Canyon (Nevada), 
141 



Las Vegas, Nevada 24, 60, 

63, 104-105, 107, 111, 

134, 135, 138-155, 157, 

158, 159, 162, 164, 166, 

167, 168, 177, 184, 185, 

188, 200, 201, 203, 207, 

209, 218-219, 227, 237 
Las Vegas Age , 147 
Las Vegas High School, 151, 
203 

Las Vegas North stake, LDS, 

228 

Las Vegas Power Compan] 

Las Vegas stake, LDS„ 

Las Vegas Sun , 

Las Vegas Wesl 
228 

Latham^ ^ - 

ints, 1-2, 

0, 11, 26, 27-42, 
143, 226-231, 

41-243 

Latter Day Saints Church, 
Boulder City, 213 
Leavitt, Dudley, 3 
Lee, Henry, 146, 178 
Lee, Jane Vail Johnson, 
Leander, 178 
Lee, Meander, 178 
Lee, Philander, 178 
Lee, Salamander, 178 
Lee family, 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 
Lees Canyon (Nevada), 178 
Legislature, Nevada state, 

97 

Liberty Bonds (World War I), 
98-99 

Liberty's Last Stand (saloon), 
154-155 


Labrador, 239 
Lahontan Dam, 211 
Lake Mead stake, LDS, 

228 

Lamond (Indian), 64 
La Salle extension course 
171 


Lincoln County, Nevada, 4, 
112, 136, 143, 149, 150, 
162, 163, 172, 175, 226, 
227 

Lincoln County High School, 
112-116, 119, 158 
Littler, Otto, 207, 209 
Logan, Utah, 197 
Logandale, Nevada, 140 
Los Angeles, California, 139 
192, 207, 217, 221 





118 


Elbert B. Edwards 


L 


Lost City Museum, 177 
Lost Dutchman mine, 204 

Me 

McCarran, Patrick A., 45 
46, 214, 215 
McIntosh, Henry "Hen," 
16-18 


Mormons 

See Latter Day Saints 
Moroni, Indian chief, 5, 11 
Mt. Rose stake, LDS, 228 
Muddy River (Nevada), 12 
Mutual Improvement Associa¬ 
tion, LDS, 31-33, 167 

N 


McIntosh, Will, 16-18 
McNamee, Frank, 148 
McNamee, Leo, 148, 158 


M 


Malone, George W. "Molly, 
214 

Masons, 148 
Mathews family, 6 
Mead, Lake, 187 

See also Hoover Dam 
Meadow Valley (Nevada), 

6-8, 9, 10, 21, 42, 4 
113 

See also Panac 

Meadow Valley C_ 

3 

Meadow Valley Wash, 24, 134 
Melchizedek priesthood, 
/ 34 - 35 ^ 

Melinda (Indian), 64, 65 
Mesquite, Nevada, 140, 227 

Vl28 


National Education Associa¬ 
tion (NEA), 149 
National Geographic mag; 

232 

Nauvoo, Illinois, 

Navaho Indians 
Needles , rornia £^22 8 

Nellis .^6 1 "Hap," 220 

Nellis ; Ai :ce Base, 237 

Jevada, 140 
liversity, 111, 

, 116, 117-119, 
L20-127, 133-134, 
135-136, 146, 175, 208, 
224, 228 

Nevada stake, LDS, 228 
Newcomer, Leland, 150 
Nile River, 232 
Nixon, George S., 142 
Nye County, Nevada, 150, 
172, 179 



Mesquite Club, Las Vegas, 

148 

Michigan, University, 124 
Milford, Utah, 19, 23, 142 
Mines, U. S. Bureau, 186-187, 
194 

Minnie (Indian), 64, 65-67 
Missouri, 1, 8 
Mitchell, Andy, 197-198 
Moapa, Nevada, 24 
Moapa stake, LDS, 226-228 
Moapa Valley (Nevada), 45, 

140 

Modena, Utah, 95, 101 
Mojave, Fort, 9 
Mojave, Lake, 187 
Monterey, California, 132-133 
Moore, Ert, 176-177 
Moritz , E . H, , 195 


Ogden, Utah, 132 
Ogle, William, 140-151 
Okus (Indian), 11 
Olinghouse, Ralph, 119-120 
Ontario, Canada, 239 
Oregon Shortline railroad, 
23-24 

Orr, William E., 146 
Overton, Nevada, 12, 140, 
177, 185, 226, 227 

P 

Pacific Fruit Express 
Company, 128-132, 156 
Pahranagat mines , 10 
Pahranagat Valley (Nevada) 
10, 11, 113, 114, 159, 
160, 164, 166, 180 




Original Index: For Reference Only 


119 


p 

Pahrump, Nevada, 180 

Reno stake, LDS, 228 

Pahrump Valley (Nevada), 

Republicans, 189 

178 

Reserve Officers Training 

Panaca, Nevada, 9, 10, 11, 

Corps (ROTC), 118, 

12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 

121-122, 127, 132, 

27-45, 60, 64, 69, 

133 

74-88, 93, 94, 95-115, 

Richards, Johnny, 165 

117, 119, 134, 136, 137, 

Rogers, Mr., 10-11 

143, 147, 227 

Ronnow, E. E., 143 

See also Meadow Valley 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 

Panaca Commercial Club, 45 

143, 189 


Panaca Cooperative Store 
See Zion's Cooperative 
Mercantile Association 
Panaca Irrigation Company, 

86-88 

Paradise Valley (Clark County), 
151 

Parent-Teacher Association, 
Reno, 97 

Park, John S., 158 
Park, William S., 177 
Park Service, U. S., 187 
Patterson Pass (Nevad 
179 

Peach Springs, 

Pioche, Nev 
18-19 
4 

71, 113, 114, 

146, 147, 179 
Pioneer Day, 36-42 
P&Hfnd China hogs, 177 
Price, C. W., 136 
Provo, Utah, 2 
Pulsipher, Lewis, 220 


Rose, Mt., 123 
Rose Valley (Nevada] 

40, 113 

Rotary Club, Las Vegas, 
148 

Roxa (Indian) 65 

Russell .^©kar , 

14, 215 

r olf hounds, 178 
William John Henry, 

133 



Saber and Chain club 

See Scabbard and Blade 

St. George, Utah, 2, 7, 

8, 10, 12, 27, 49, 

73, 226 

St. George stake, LDS, 
226, 228 

St. Joseph, Nevada, 12 

St. Thomas, Nevada, 12, 
140, 227 

Salt Lake City, Utah, 

2, 23, 29, 31, 33 


R 

Railroad Pass, 204-205 

Reclamation, U. S. Bureau, 
183, 185, 190-191, 193, 
194, 195, 200, 203, 207, 
209, 211, 215, 216, 217, 
218, 220 

Recorder, Lincoln County, 
146 

Red Rock Canyon (southern 
Nevada), 166 

Reining, Henry, Jr., 193 

Relief Society, LDS., 

33-34, 168 

Reno, Nevada, 115, 122, 123 
131, 138, 176, 228 


Salton Sea (California), 
139 

San Francisco, California 
146, 154, 155 

San Joaquin Valley 
(California), 138 

San Jose, California, 

142 

Santa Clara, Utah, 8 

Santa Clara River 
(Utah), 3 

Sawtelle, California, 

151 

Scabbard and Blade 

military association, 
133 

Scott, A. L., 46 


r 



120 


Elbert B. Edwards 


S 


Scrugham, James G., 45, 46, 
208-209, 214 

Searchlight, Nevada, 140, 185 
Shaw, Lawrence T., "Buck," 

121 

Sheep Mountain (Nevada), 

158, 160, 166 
Sherwood, Stephen, 12, 18 
Sierra Nevada mountains, 128 
Silver Peak, Nevada, 173-175 
Six Companies, Inc., 185, 
202-204, 207 

Skidoo (Indian), 176-177 
Slavin, Helene, 175 
Sledge, Leonard, 172, 180 
Sloan, Nevada, 140 
Smith, Chauncey, 172 
Smith, J. D., 157, 166 
Smith, Mrs. J. D., 157 
Smith, Joseph, 229 
Southern California, 
University, 181, 193 
Southern California Edi 
Company, 192, 

Southern Pacific 
132, 138 

Sparks, Nej* 117 , -i22, 
123,^2$ 2, 149, 228 

range, 178 
rles P. "Pop," 

rt family, 158 
rt Hall (University of 
Nevada), 133 

Storey County, Nevada, 142 
Sunnyside, Nevada, 179 
Superintendent of Public 

Instruction, Nevada State, 
25, 107 

Supreme Court, Nevada state, 

' 148 

Swing-Johnson bill, 135, 
138-139, 19 



Thompson, Reuben C., 
118-119 

Thompson, Mrs. Rueben c., 
119 

Time magazine, 150-151 
Tomiyasu, Bill, 151 
Tomiyasu, Kiyo, 151 
Tomiyasu, Nanyu, 151 
Tomiyasu family, 151 
Tonopah, Nevada, 149, 

172, 174, 175, 178 
Tooele, Utah, 2, 8, 19 
Toynbee, Arnold J., 242 
Traner, Fred W.^, 

135, 224 
Treasure 
21 

Truman, Har^t-S^ 189 


Dn Pacific Park 
(Las Vegas), 141 
Union Pacific railroad, 
24, 94, 132, 138, 142 
Utah, 2, 5, 15, 82, 

93, 94, 136, 163, 

166, 191, 226, 227, 
242 

Utah, University, 111, 
136, 137 

Uvada stake, LDS, 227, 
228 


V 


"Valley Tan," 20 
Virgin River (Nevada), 
2, 3 

Virgin Valley (Nevada), 
140 


W 


T 

Taylor, William, 158 
Taylor ranch, 158 
Terry, Roxa Woods, 94 
Terry, Tom, 94 
Terry family, 93, 95 
Thompson, Bruce, 118 
Thompson, Gordon, 118 


War, U. S. department. 
See Defense Department 
War Production Board, 

U. S. , 210, 212 
Washington, D. C., 46, 
149, 188, 191, 193, 
199, 208 




Original Index: For Reference Only 


121 


W 

Washington County, Utah, 6 
Washoe Lake (Nevada), 122 
Watts, H. 0., 206-207, 218 
Weede, Robert 0., 205-207 
Wellsville, Utah, 19 
West Point, Nevada, 12 
Westside (Las Vegas, Nevada), 
139 

White Pine County, Nevada, 

21 

Wier, Jeanne E. "Jennie," 

118